Special Correspondent

THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: The Forest Department has failed to carry out its plans to reconstitute eco-development committees (EDCs) in the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks of the State to ensure better accountability.

As a result, many of these committees continue to function in an irregular manner, disregarding the directives of the department. Following widespread detection of irregularities in the running of sales outlets by the committees along the forest paths to Sabarimala through the Periyar Wildlife Sanctuary last year, Forest Minister Benoy Viswom had announced plans to revamp the EDCs.

Orders were issued in July last. However, they are yet to be implemented. People running the outlets in the name of the committees have considerable clout that the Department officials often fail to keep a check on them. Some of the outlets had refused to sell the ‘Sabari Jalam’ manufactured by the department for distribution to the pilgrims. Though the Chief Wildlife Warden made an appeal to the committees to cooperate with the department in selling the packaged drinking water and collecting back the plastic bottles, the response was poor.

The EDCs were to be rooted in specified areas and were to play more active role in forest management, as in the case of the Vana Samrakshana Samithis (VSS). The guidelines applicable to VSS were to apply to the EDCs also.

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