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Centre acceds to Kerala's plea to keep agricultural land out of ESA

Centre acceds to Keralas plea to keep agricultural land out of ESA

New Delhi: Acceding to Kerala government's demand, the Centre has decided to keep agricultural land, plantations and habitations out of Ecologically Senstive Areas (ESAs) identified by a committee.

It also decided to consider similar proposals of other states in Western Ghats region if forwarded within 60 days of issuance of the draft notification.

"Recommendations of the state government were examined by the Ministry of Environment and Forest and it has been decided to accept these recommendations in respect of Kerala, regarding ESA boundaries. The draft notification is being issued by the Ministry incorporating the said modifications," said a government statement issued Tuesday evening.

"It has also been decided that the MoEF will consider recommendations of the other states in Western Ghats region based on similar on-ground exercise if such proposals are forwarded to the MoEF within 60 days of issuance of the draft notification," the statement said.

Talking to reporters late Tuesday night after a meeting with cabinet colleagues and state Congress president V M Sudheeran, Chandy said all apprehensions on the issue has been put to rest as the state government's main demand for demarcation again of 123 villages, identified as ecologically sensitive areas, has been accepted by the Centre.

"This is clearly mentioned in the new Office Memorandum issued by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest today... A notification incorporating the suggestions of Kerala would come out soon," Mr. Chandy said.

Chandy said no one could make any political mileage out of the issue. "Persons who dream that UDF could be politically weakened on the issue will not succeed," he said.

Kerala government had set up an expert committee to study the impact of the Kasturirangan committee recommendations and had set up panchayat-level committees in 123 villages falling within ESAs as identified by the committee for undertaking field verification and interaction with the stakeholders.

The committee was of the view that agricultural lands, plantations and habitations may be kept out of the ESAs, the statement said.

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