Staff Reporter

To be moved in the next Assembly session, it is aimed at checking tree-felling

Development projects will not be allowed to harm the environmentCall for integrated wetland management strategy

Thiruvananthapuram: Law Minister M. Vijayakumar announced here on Monday that the Government will move an amendment to the forest laws to check tree felling and deforestation. Inaugurating the World Environment Day celebrations organised by the Department of Forests, he said the amendment would be introduced in the forthcoming session of the Assembly.

"The Government takes a serious view of environmental issues raised by nature lovers and environmental activists. Development projects will not be allowed to harm the environment," he said.

Mr. Vijayakumar said he had issued directions to prevent the felling of avenue trees for the reconstruction of the Museum-Kowdiar road. He said the road development scheme would be revised soon. V. Sivankutty, MLA, presided over the function. Poet Sugathakumari delivered the keynote address. Forest secretary L. Radhakrishnan and Principal Chief Forest Conservator R.P. Sarma were present. Earlier, the invitees planted tree saplings.

Seminar

In a separate function organised by the Kerala State Council for Science, Technology and Environment (KSCSTE), Chief Minister V.S. Achuthanandan called for a campaign against deforestation and other assaults on nature that threaten large parts of the State. Inaugurating a seminar on the theme topic, `Deforestation and Desertification,' he said the relentless onslaught on nature could lead to desertification of vast tracts of land in the near future.

"Wetlands, mangroves and paddy fields have to be protected if the trend towards desertification is to be arrested. Trees and plants help to purify the air around us. When these resources are destroyed, it impacts on the purification process and affects our health," Mr.Achuthanandan said.

The Chief Minister called for adopting scientific methods to protect nature. He exhorted social organisations to take the initiative to campaign against deforestation. He released two books published by KSCSTE, one on the environmental impact of tsunami on the Kerala coast, and the other on plastics and the environment.

Mr. Achuthanandan presented the annual Science and Technology award to Palliyara Sreedharan and the Science Journalist award to K.V. Sudhakaran of Desabhimani.

He also distributed awards to the children who won competitions organised in connection with the World Environment Day.

Presiding over the function, A.E. Muthunayagam, executive vice-president, KSCSTE, highlighted the need for environment protection to be made an integral part of the development process. He called for people's participation in activities for sustainable development.

Secretary, Ministry of Ocean Development, P.S. Goel, Forest Secretary L. Radhakrishnan, KSCSTE member secretary K.R.S. Krishnan and Principal Scientific Officer Kamalakshan Kokkal participated in the function.

Presenting a paper at the technical session, J.K. Sharma, Director, Kerala Forest Research Institute, Peechi, revealed that Kerala had lost 67 per cent of its forest wealth to unscientific resource management, the highest extent of forest degradation in the country.

In his paper, E.J. James, Executive Director, Centre for Water Resources Development and Management (CWRDM), highlighted the role of local self-government institutions in watershed management.

He proposed an institutional mechanism comprising multi-disciplinary experts and elected representatives of the people.

Mr. James said wetlands played a key function in flood control, groundwater recharge, water supply and purification. He stressed the need for an integrated wetland management strategy with special focus on protection of mangrove ecosystems.

Scores of people took part in a mini marathon held in the city on Monday evening as part of the World Environment Day celebrations.

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