The Kasturirangan Committee has been set up to suggest measures to conserve the ecology of the hill range
The Kerala government has submitted to its Union counterpart, its revised recommendations on demarcation of ‘ecologically sensitive areas’ (ESAs) in the portion of the Western Ghats that lies in the state, Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan told the state assembly recently.
Vijayan further informed that a new report with the suggestions had been prepared based on the survey and studies conducted by the Kerala State Remote Sensing and Environment Centre (KSREC).
The Union government had sought the views of states where the Western Ghats are located—Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu—on the ESAs for issuing the final notification based on the report of the Kasturirangan Committee, set up to suggest measures to conserve and protect the ecology of the hill range.
According to the Kasturirangan report, a total of 13,108 sq km, including stretches in 123 villages in Kerala, was proposed to be demarcated as ‘ecologically fragile land’ under the ESA. Kerala's hilly regions had witnessed protests after the Centre passed two orders in November 2013 for implementing the report, which imposed several restrictions, including on taking up construction and quarrying.
Following the protests, the state assembly had unanimously passed a resolution in January 2014 asking the Centre to exempt populated, agriculture and plantation areas from the ambit of ESA. Vijayan said KSREC “has clearly defined the ESAs in the region based on facts. Its report and recommendations were recently approved by the state cabinet and submitted to the Centre for its consideration,” he said.
He said the state expected that the Centre would accept the revised recommendations while issuing the final notification.
Vijayan was replying to a notice for an adjournment motion, seeking a discussion on the difficulties faced by the local people in the hills of Munnar to get a no-objection-certificate (NoC) for constructing houses.
According to the Centre’s February 2014 draft notification, the ESA in the state is spread over an area of 9,993.7 sq km comprising 9,107 sq km of forest area and 886.7 sq km of non-forest area.
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