Karnataka

Karnataka says ‘no’ to Kasturirangan report

Panel had suggested declaring 1,576 villages along Western Ghats as ecologically-sensitive areas.

Panel had suggested declaring 1,576 villages along Western Ghats as ecologically-sensitive areas.  

The panel had suggested declaring 1,576 villages along the Western Ghats as ecologically-sensitive areas

The State government has told the Centre, two days before the deadline to submit recommendations on demarcation of ecologically-sensitive areas (ESAs), that it disagrees with the K. Kasturirangan-led panel report.

The panel had suggested declaring 1,576 villages along the Western Ghats as ESA, which would heighten conservation measures as well as place restrictions on certain construction activities that involve landscape changes.

In his letter on August 16 to C.K. Mishra, Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC), Sandeep Dave, Additional Chief Secretary, Forest Ecology and Environment Department, has said that “after extensive public consultations”, it was decided to place their objection on record. This follows a meeting with MoEF&CC officials held on April 11, 2018.

In his letter, Dr. Dave took exception to the demi-official letter enclosing the minutes of the meeting, which read: “The State government is requested to constitute a committee to look after the apprehensions and concerns of the State regarding the declaration of ESA of the Western Ghats region.” Dr. Dave took exception, stating that the State government has already “very clearly elucidated its position” on the matter and there was no need for a committee to be constituted. However, if the Centre were to form a committee, then the State government would extend cooperation. The State government’s response gains significance in the political controversy looming over the issue.

Nalin Kumar Kateel, Dakshina Kannada MP, had said that if Karnataka did not respond by August 25, which is the deadline fixed by the Centre, then the demarcations recommended by Kasturirangan Committee would be deemed as final. He said that the Kerala government had already submitted its response in June. The Centre had sought the views of Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat, and Tamil Nadu on the ESAs for issuing final notification based on the report of the Kasturirangan Committee.

Interestingly, two reports on preserving the Western Ghats and stopping degradation — one submitted by Madhav Gadgil in 2011 and the later one submitted by Mr. Kasturirangan — have come into debate after the floods in Kerala and Kodagu.

The six states that share the range are trying their level best to bring down the area under the proposed ESAs in the Western Ghat ranges.

Meanwhile, former Forest Minister B. Ramanath Rai, had recently urged the Centre against implementing the recommendations of the report noting that, implementation of report will have an impact on 1576 villages in 20,668 sq km of Western Ghats region in Karnataka.

The Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy assured of holding a high-level Committee meeting and discussion on the possibility of protecting the interest of people in the Western Ghats, at the same time conserving the ecology during his recent visit to Dharmastala.

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Printable version | Feb 23, 2020 12:25:08 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/karnataka/state-says-no-to-kasturirangan-report/article24747928.ece

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