Today's Paper

Kasturirangan report: subcommittee to give priority to people’s concerns

B. Ramanath Rai

B. Ramanath Rai  

B. Ramanath Rai, Minister for Forests and Environment, said on Friday that the State government will give priority to concerns of the people in its report to the Union government on the recommendations of the K. Kasturirangan panel on conservation of Western Ghats.

Speaking to presspersons here, Mr. Rai said that six States had to send their reports on the panel’s report. Of them, only Kerala had so far done a survey of cultural and natural landscapes of the villages on the borders of the Western Ghats and submitted a report to the Union government. The others are yet to submit their reports. “Even the Prime Minister’s home State of Gujarat has not submitted its report yet,” he said.

The Kasturirangan panel has recommended a ban on development activities in 60,000-square kilometre area of the Western Ghats in Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, which it considered as ecologically sensitive. About 37 per cent of the area marked as boundary of the Western Ghats is ecologically sensitive as per the panel’s report.

Mr. Rai said that the State government had formed a cabinet subcommittee to look into the Kasturirangan report. People living on the borders of the Western Ghats were apprehensive that all development and agricultural activities might come to a standstill due to the Kasturirangan report.

“We will take all aspects into consideration. Our report on the panel’s recommendations will take the concerns of the people into consideration. We will give a pro-people report,” he said.

But the opinion of the State government was not final. The Union government will look into the reports filed by other State governments and then take a decision, Mr. Rai said.

On the deemed forests issue stalling the development of the Varahi Irrigation Project in Udupi district, Mr. Rai said that his Ministry would follow the guidelines of the Supreme Court in the matter. But he would strive to provide the required land for the project as per rules, he said.

On the increasing man-animal conflict in the State, Mr. Rai said that this was due to the fact that Karnataka was succeeding in protecting wild animals such as tigers and elephants. The government would take steps to avoid such man-animal conflicts, he said.

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