`Malnad to be exempted from population norm for delimitation'

Bangalore Nov. 7. The National Delimitation Commission headed by Kuldip Singh, former judge of the Supreme Court, has reacted "positively" to a request to exempt the Malnad area in the State from the population criterion while delimiting Lok Sabha and Assembly constituencies.

A claim to this effect was made here today by the Chairman of the Legislative Council, B.L. Shankar, who said Mr. Singh's reaction followed a request by the Speaker of the Assembly, M.V. Venkatappa, recently.

Mr. Shankar, who was addressing a press conference here today, said a preliminary assessment showed that if the criterion of two lakh population for an Assembly segment and 16 lakh population for a Lok Sabha constituency was adopted, it would reduce the representation for Chikmagalur, Kodagu, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, and Shimoga districts.

Further, the special cultural characteristics of the Malnad area would be lost in the Houses unless it was exempted from the population criterion as in the case of the North-east and Lakshadweep.

Mr. Shankar said he had already held discussions with representatives of various political parties from the Malnad districts likely to be affected. There would be further discussions by the end of this month before the matter was taken up with the ten-member State committee of the commission and Mr. Singh himself.

A planter himself, Mr. Shankar suggested amendment of the Forest Conservation Act to remove coffee cultivation from the definition of "non-forest activity". The classification did not have any scientific basis and had put coffee growers to hardship.

The MPs from coffee growing areas had been requested to explain this point to the Centre, he said.

Referring to inclusion of areca nut in the "injurious to health" category under the Food Adulteration Act without any basis, Mr. Shankar said the addition of other ingredients by traders to make profits had brought a bad name to those growing quality areca nut. The law should be suitably amended to undo the damage, Mr. Shankar added.

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