Greens in Kodagu bat for Kasturirangan report

'Vested interests are creating confusion in the minds of people'

To preserve the greenery in Kodagu, there is a need to implement recommendations of Kasturirangan report on conservation of Western Ghats. If the recommendations are not implemented, then the environment will be at stake, said office bearers of Wildlife First.

Addressing a press meet here on Thursday, K M Chinnappa, A Thammu Poovaiah, T M Somaiah, P M Muthanna and M K Appacchu said that the report will not harm environment and its dwellers. However, a few vested interest, politicians and officials are engaged in creating rumours against the report. It has created fear in the minds of the people.

“Timber mafia, mining lobby and encroachers are engaged in misleading people. Thousands of trees have been felled to facilitate the work on high-tension wire in Virajpet. Will the environment in Kodagu intact if hydel power and railway line projects are implemented,” they asked.

“Those who have opposed the report have not read the report. It is better if people read the report on their own. If we initiate a discussion, then we are projected as pseudo environmentalists and anti-development.”

He lamented at the untoward incident reported during state-level committee’s visit to collect opinion on the recommendations in Madikeri.

The office-bearers said as per the recommendations, only 37 per cent of the Western Ghats have been identified as Specially Economic Areas. There is no problem in taking up development work in the remaining 63 per cent of the area. “ESAs are those areas considered sensitive, less populated, National Park, Reserve forest, project tiger  and elephant corridor areas. Only 55 villages in the district have been identified as SEAs and not the entire district,” they said. “There is no proposal to acquire agricultural and coffee estates. There is no restriction on the felling of trees on private land. The land owners can seek permission and fell trees in Kodagu as per the Karnataka Forests Act 1963 and Karnataka Preservation of Trees Act 1976. There is no proposal to check felling of silver, acacia trees grown by the land owners.

They said “the recommendations have not laid down any restrictions on the cultivation of coffee, black pepper, paddy and oranges in Kodagu. It has not laid down restrictions on the construction of houses as well. Commercial activities like coffee, tea processing units, home stays, commercial complex, cement unit, furniture units and tiles manufacturing units are listed in green zones and no restrictions have been laid down on it.”

The recommendation has banned quarry, sand mining, setting up of thermal power projects and construction of more than 20000 square metre building in the identified areas, they added.

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