No outcome from meet on Kasturirangan report

No outcome from meet on Kasturirangan report
There was no fruitful outcome from the meeting of Kasturirangan committee report panel members comprising ministers and legislators from areas abutting Western Ghats, where the proposed eco-sensitive zones will be demarcated. The MLAs wanted the state government to follow the Kerala model while ministers are keen to preserve the pristine forest patch.

Speaking to mediapersons on the sidelines of the meeting, Forest Minister B Ramanath Rai said that the stand of the government is clear. “Areas where human settlement is there will be deleted and all reserve forest, sanctuaries and eco-sensitive zones will be included.’’ The Kasturirangan report has proposed to declare 20,668 sqkm as ecological sensitive zone in Karnataka. But the state government has proposed to reduce this by 1,571 sqkm (which is inhabited by 1,576 villages) and retain 19,097 sqkm as the “no-go zone”.

Most of the participants in the meeting were not convinced and wanted the government to follow the Kerala model, where they have proposed to delete the whole non-forest land of 886.7 sqkm. Ministers T B Jayachandra, R V Deshpande, Kagodu Thimmappa and Ramanath Rai were present at the meeting along with legislators, including K G Bopaiah, Shakuntala T Shetty, Ganesh Karnik and Vishveshwar Hegde Kageri.

The government is in a hurry to submit its objections and the final report within the stipulated time of 60 days (from the day of release of March 2), but the Opposition party members are keen to ensure that the time frame lapses. There were heated arguments during the meeting. Some MLAs pointed that more areas in their constituency should be deleted as they were keen to appease voters, while many questioned the areas already proposed to be deleted. Some others also questioned the whole survey process.

“We don’t want to waste time. If the MLAs and locals want another physical survey, it can be done, but it would be area-specific. Another meeting will also be held with the MLAs of the areas soon, and then the final report will be placed before the Cabinet. The final decision will be taken by the Cabinet. The final objections of the state government will be sent to the Ministry of Environment and Forests,” Rai said.

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