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State to form experts' panel on Western Ghats report

State to form experts panel on Western Ghats report

Thiruvananthapuram: Under pressure to implement recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturirangan panels on Western Ghats preservation, Congress-led UDF government Monday decided to form an experts' committee to prepare the State's response on the issue sought by the Centre.

This was announced by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy after the Opposition LDF boycotted an all-party meet, convened to work out a consensus on the issue.

The LDF leaders, who stayed away from the meet as part of their ongoing boycott of the Chief Minister, have made it clear they will give their suggestions in writing to the government.

The Union Forest and Environment Ministry has sought the State's response on the recommendations of the two panels on protecting the biodiversity hotspot, which runs through several states.

Kerala's consistent position has been that it is difficult for it to accept the Gadgil report as much of the Ecologically Eensitive Areas (ESAs) identified by it are highly populated in the case of the state.

The government, however, is of the view that suggestions of the Kasturirangan panel are comparatively flexible, considering the objective conditions prevailing in the State.

Both ruling UDF and the LDF have expressed apprehensions over the difficulties faced by people living on the slopes of the Western Ghats in carrying out farming and other livelihood activities, especially in Idukki and Wayanad districts, if the Western Ghats report is implemented in toto.

The government itself has reservations since implementation of the reports would halt all development works in the eastern upland of the state.

As per the Kasturirangan report, parts of Idukki and Wayanad would come under the definition of ESA, where human activity would have to be drastically curbed to protect the biodiversity hotspot from further assualt.

Chandy said 123 villages in these areas would come under the definition of ESA.

He said the UDF Government's position on the issue is that environment should be protected without causing practical difficulties to people living on the slopes of Western Ghats for generations.

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