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Kasturirangan report rocks Assembly

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Kasturirangan report rocks Assembly
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Thiruvananthapuram: CPI-M led LDF Opposition members Wednesday disrupted proceedings in the House, seeking a debate on the Kasturirangan committee report on Western Ghats conservation forcing the Speaker to adjourn the Assembly for an hour.

LDF members were irritated over the Centre's assertion before the National Green Tribunal yesterday that order restricting industrial activities and mining in Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA), as specified by the report, stands.

They alleged that it was contrary to the assurance given by the Centre that the Kasturirangan report suggestions would be implemented only after considering the state's views.

Unruly scenes were witnessed when five slogan shouting MLAs from the high range region, including a woman MLA, Bijumol from Idukki district, climbed the Speaker's podium while many others moved to the Well of the House demanding a debate on the issue.

Speaker G Karthikeyan, who held consultations with Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Opposition leader V S Achuthanandan announced when the House reassembled that an agreement has been reached to hold the debate tomorrow.

CPI-M Deputy leader Kodiyeri Balakrishnan, who raised the issue through a notice for adjournment motion, alleged that government failed to protect interest of farmers as settler farmers in 123 villages identified as ESA by Kasturirangan report were under the fear of an 'undeclared eviction' threat.

No development activities would take place, he said.

LDF wanted the "anti-farmer" recommendations in the report to be deleted and demarcation of 123 villages as ESA should be reviewed, he said. "People in high range regions are in a grip of anxiety over the new development," he added.

Replying to the notice, Chief Minister Oommen Chandy asserted that there was no ground for anxiety and "nothing has changed."

The 'Office memorandum' issued by Environment Ministry on December 20 last that final decision on the Kasturirangan report would be taken only after consultation with states concerned stands, he said.

"State government is committed to protecting the interest of farmers in the region and was confident that state would succeed in getting necessary modifications in the report," he added.

Chandy said the report of the Oommen V Oommen Committee, set up by the state government to study the amendments to be made on the Kasturirangan report, would be submitted to the Centre on January 31.

People of hill region under the banner of High Range Protection Committee have been on the warpath ever since the recommendations of Kasturirangan report came out as they fear that it would lead to large-scale displacement and badly affect their livelihood.

Meanwhile, LDF has called for a dawn-to-dusk hartal in Idukki district and in nine ecologically-sensitive panchayats in Kozhikode Wednesday.

The 'Panel Against Kasturirangan Report' has called a hartal in Vechuchira panchayat in Pathanamthitta.

PTI

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