The Central Government is expected to issue a draft notification excluding about 2,500 sq km of human settlements, plantations and agricultural land from the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) earmarked by the High Level Working Group (HLWG) for conservation of the Western Ghats headed by K. Kasturirangan, according to Oommen V. Oommen, chairman of a three-member panel set up by the state to study the impact of the HLWG report.
Prof. Oommen, who represented Kerala at an official discussion convened by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in New Delhi on Thursday, said he had received an assurance from MoEF officials that the draft notification on implementation of the HLWG report would be issued in a day or two. He said the official delegation from Kerala had submitted land-use records and other documents to convince the MoEF officials of the need to take stakeholders into confidence while implementing the report.
Talking to The Hindu at the venue of the National Science Day celebrations here on Friday, he said the exemption of 2,500 sq km from the ESA regulations, including quarrying, mining, Red category industries, thermal power plants and construction of townships and buildings, would help remove the apprehensions of the people and ensure their involvement in the implementation of the HLWG report. “As beneficiaries of the Western Ghats conservation, it is the people who matter.”
Prof. Oommen said the state had offered to take up the conservation of almost 1,000 sq km outside the reserve forest area.