Kerala to submit revised report to Centre for ESA notification

Area of 8711.87 sq km in 98 villages assessed for demarcation as ESA

Published - July 11, 2024 07:27 pm IST - Thiruvananthapuram

The Kerala government is in the process of verifying the revised report prepared by the Department of Environment and Climate Change on identifying the ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) in the State before submitting it to the Centre for final notification, the Assembly was informed on Thursday.

Replying to a submission moved by Sunny Joseph in the House, Finance Minister K.N. Balagopal, who spoke on behalf of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said an area of 8,711.87 sq km in 98 villages had been assessed for demarcation as ESA, based on the verification of the ‘shape files‘ prepared by the Environment department.

The revised report had been forwarded to the Local Self-Government department (LSGD) for further verification to ensure that all populated areas were exempted from the ESA.

Mr. Balagopal said the Centre had issued the draft ESA notification in 2014, based on a report submitted by the then UDF government in Kerala. “The report was hastily prepared without ground truthing and included human settlements. The LDF government however is of the view that all inhabited areas, plantations, water bodies and fragmented forests are excluded from the ESA”.

In 2018, he said, the government had identified 8,656.46 sq km in 92 villages for classification as ESA and submitted the report, along with maps, to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). The report was later revised to exclude farmlands and plantations and the extent of ESA was fixed at 8,711.87 sq km in 98 villages.

The Minister explained that the number of villages in the revised report had gone up from 92 to 98 following the delimitation process while the area went up from 8,656.46 to 8,711.87 sq km because reserve forests and leased forest land were also included.

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