Panchayat panels to demarcate ESA land in 119 villages


Report to be submitted to Union Ministry by July 29

he government has decided to carry out field-level verification to demarcate the forest land to be earmarked as Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) in the villages in Kerala identified by the Kastururangan committee for conservation of the Western Ghats.

A high-level meeting convened by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy here on Friday resolved to constitute panchayat-level committees in 119 villages for the ground truthing exercise to fine-tune the block level cadastral maps prepared earlier by the Kerala State Biodiversity Board. The decision effectively vetoes the maps prepared on the basis of data provided by the Forest Department

During the survey scheduled to take place on July 23 and 24, the committee chaired by the panchayat president and comprising the village officer, forest range officer, agricultural officer, an official of the survey department and the panchayat secretary will earmark the forest land by survey number after sub dividing farmland within the area. District Collectors would coordinate the exercise.

Mr.Chandy said the field verification was necessitated by the conversion of forests into farmland over the years in many villages. The village-level reports demarcating the ESA land would be compiled by July 25 and submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for issuing the final notification on the implementation of the Kasturirangan committee report.

Briefing reporters after the meeting, Mr.Chandy said Kerala had apprised the Centre of its stand that only forest land now protected by the Forest Department would be recommended for demarcation as ESA. “In many villages, human settlements and farmland are shown as forest in land records, making the demarcation process difficult. The resurvey process has been completed in only 45 villages. The verification exercise is expected to clarify the situation.”

Replying to questions, Mr.Chandy said the Cardamom Hill Reserve would be demarcated as non-ESA since the government had classified it as revenue land with only the trees coming under the purview of the Forest Department.

Asked how the demarcation of forest land as ESA would impact the litigation over the status of forest land in many areas, he said the legal proceedings over ownership would continue. “The government’s stand is clear. Farmland will not be counted as ESA.”

Ministers K.M. Mani, Ramesh Chennithala, K.C. Joseph, Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, P.J. Joseph and Adoor Prakash, MPs Joyce George, M.I. Shanwaz and Anto Antony, MLAs Roshy Augustine, S. Rajendran, K.K. Jayachandran and E.S. Bijimol and senior officials participated in the meeting.

Report to be submitted to Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

by July 29

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Printable version | Dec 11, 2019 8:53:47 AM |

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