Panel report on W Ghats impractical: Kerala govt

The Kerala government has appealed to the National Green Tribunal to scrap the Gadgil panel report on the preservation of Western Ghats as it feels the recommendations are “impractical”.

In its affidavit filed before the tribunal, the state said, the panel’s suggestion that application of pesticide be completely banned in the Western Ghats cannot be implemented as the state has been struggling to increase the agricultural output.

The state government pointed out in its affidavit that cash crops such as rubber, tea, coffee, cardamom and ginger, which fetch good revenue to the exchequer and provide jobs for thousands of people are located in the Western Ghats and its planes.
The Kerala government argues that it has already banned highly lethal pesticides and a total ban of the agrochemical is impossible.

It also told the tribunal, since an expert committee appointed by the Union government is extensively studying the report, it should not take any decision until the committee’s report is released.

Adequate laws

Kerala says it cannot accept the key recommendation of the panel to form an exclusive body, Western Ghats Ecology Authority, for the preservation of the ecosystem, since it believes that the state and Central laws on environment and ecology have enough teeth to protect the Ghats.

Environmental activists in the state are of the view that the major reason for the state’s opposition against the report is due to the fact that the panel has strongly recommended against allocating land for the Athirapally hydro-electricity project being planned in the Chalakudy river as it fears the proposed project will be devastating for the fragile and unique ecosystem.

That apart, many areas earmarked by the panel have been encroached upon by a growing population and resort mafias with tacit support of all political parties.

Evicting them to preserve the Ghats will trigger massive violence and sharp criticism as seen at the hill station of Munnar a few years ago when former chief minister V S  Achuthanandan made a partially successful attempt to evict large scale encroachment mainly by the resort mafia, but was not backed by his own party the CPM.

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