Resolution requesting Centre to exempt inhabited places from ESZ notification passed by Kerala Assemblytext_fields
THIRUVANANTHAPURAM: A resolution was unanimously passed on Thursday requesting the Center to exclude residential areas and agricultural lands in the state while implementing a one-km-wide Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) around forests and wildlife sanctuaries as directed by the Supreme Court.
In a motion presented by Kerala Forest Minister AK Saseendran, the government said taking into account the unique circumstances of the south Indian state, which has a population density of over 900 people per square kilometre and limited habitable land, there was a need to completely exclude inhabited areas and agricultural areas from the ESZ.
The resolution demanded that the Central Government take necessary steps including legal remedies or legislation and issue a notification regarding ESZ recommended by the State Government.
The resolution came in the wake of the Supreme Court's June 3 order requiring each protected forest, including national parks and sanctuaries, to have a one-km ESZ and ban mining activities in such parks across the country.
The Supreme Court held that no permanent structure shall be permitted within such zones and the earlier provision shall continue to apply if the local law or other law provides for an ESZ of more than one kilometre.
The Apex Court verdict has sparked protests in the state, especially in the high-range districts of Idukki, Wayanad, Kottayam and Pathanamthitta, where various political and farmers' organizations organized hartals.
Before moving the motion in the House, the Leader of the Opposition (LOP) in the state assembly VD Satheesan said it was unfair that the government moved the motion today when a similar motion was to be moved by Congress MLA Mathew Kuzhalnadan on Friday.
He said that when the opposition favours such a resolution, it is against the established norms of the House, the manner it has been moved.
Saseendran said the resolution was to be moved on Wednesday, but could not be as the session was called off for that day given the situation prevailing in the House at the time.
He said that it was not discussed with the opposition but it was very necessary as the Supreme Court vacation would end this week and a timely request should be sent to the central government before it could be placed before the apex court.
Speaker MB Rajesh admitted that it had gone against the established practices of the House, but allowed the motion to go ahead as both sides supported the motion.
After the motion was tabled, the opposition suggested some changes or amendments, including a reference to the state's previous cabinet decision of 2019 on the implementation of the 0 to 1 km ESZ to be implemented or withdrawn.
Satheesan said that if the earlier cabinet decision was not withdrawn by way of another cabinet decision, the prior one will remain in effect and therefore, the resolution passed by the Assembly would not have the desired effect.
He said it would be wrong not to withdraw the earlier decision or mention the state's intention to withdraw it in the resolution.
However, Saseendran rejected the proposal saying that it was only a request to the central government which need not mention such matters.
He refused to accept most of the other proposed amendments to the resolution. Subsequently, the resolution was unanimously passed by a show of hands.
The apex court's June 3 order came on a batch of applications filed in a pending PIL of 1995 and they raised two sets of issues with the first one related to mining activities in and around Jamua Ramgarh, a wildlife sanctuary in Rajasthan.
The second set was of issues related to the proposed ESZs around wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.
With PTI inputs