Cabinet committee to review red tag for W Ghats industries

Cabinet committee to review  red tag for W Ghats industries

The State Cabinet sub-committee on Western Ghats, on Thursday, resolved to hold the rights to review the red industries mentioned in the Kasturirangan report.

In a meeting chaired by Forest and Environment Minister, Ramanath Rai, the sub-committee took the decision to review the State-owned red industries set up in the Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of the Western Ghats. 

The red industries are those which have been classified by the Karnataka State Pollution Control Board (KSPCB) as one of the most polluting in the region.

These include chemical plants, paper mills, fertiliser (basic - excluding formulation), iron and steel (involving processing from ore/scrap/integrated steel plants), oil refineries (mineral oil or petro refineries), pesticides (technical - excluding formulation), petrochemicals (manufacture of and not merely use of as raw material), pharmaceuticals (excluding formulation). There are as many as 100 such State-owned red industries in the Western Ghats.

Sources privy to the meeting said that the sub-committee had, in fact, taken the decision to review the red industries, rather than dismantle them as per the Kasturirangan report, due to the large-scale coffee pulping industry in the region.

With the agitation against the Kasturirangan report reaching its peak in Kodagu district, the sub-committee is said to be in a bind over the stringent implementation of the report.

Resolution passed

The Kannada Sahitya Sammelana passed a resolution in Madikeri on Thursday rejecting the report.  

Sources in the government state that the primary agenda of the sub-committee is to ensure that the livelihood and economic activity of people residing in the ESZ are protected. As a result, a decision was taken to review every State-owned and approved red industry on a case-by-case basis. However, sources said that the Centre-approved industries will be dismantled as the State government has no jurisdiction over them. The sub-committee also decided to withdraw the status of Ecological Sensitive Area (ESA) to much of the forest cover in the Western Ghats region.

According to sources, the ESA tag will be withdrawn on account of the Kasturirangan report determining that most of Western Ghats is under the ESZ purview. The logic is: When there is already a zoning which will freeze economic/social activity, the ESA tag will rob the people of their livelihood in the adjoining areas of the ESZ. It is said that the ESA has a much larger coverage than ESZ.

Report in Kannada

In the case of Kodagu district, the sub-committee has taken an elaborate decision to print the report in Kannada and distribute it to the Grama Sabhas and panchayats.The move is aimed at ensuring that the Grama Sabhas are made aware of the positives in the report on protecting the environment and their recommendations are sent to the Centre.

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