Karnataka rejects Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats

Karnataka again rejects Kasturirangan panel report on Western Ghats

A Cabinet sub-committee headed by Forest Minister Anand Singh took a stand against the implementation of the report

Karnataka on Monday decided to reject “outright” the K Kasturirangan Committee report on conserving the Western Ghats, just ahead of the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) December 31 deadline for its implementation. 

A Cabinet sub-committee headed by Forest Minister Anand Singh took a stand against the implementation of the report. 

The Kasturirangan Committee has recommended that 20,668 sqkm spread across 11 districts in the Western Ghats cradling 1,592 villages be declared as an Ecological Sensitive Area (ESA), which will come with restrictions that the government believes will hamper developmental works.

Karnataka has repeatedly rejected the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report. 

“The Kasturirangan report is unscientific. This will affect the villagers in that region. There are loopholes in the report and there is opposition at all levels, from a gram panchayat to an assembly constituency,” Revenue Minister R Ashoka told reporters. 

“This will come up before the NGT on December 31. The Centre will have to file an affidavit. While the state government isn’t a party to this, we had to inform the Centre what our stand is,” Ashoka said. 

The minister said that the Kasturirangan report would affect five other states -  Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu - with Karnataka comprising most of the area. “We won’t be able to even build schools or hospitals,” he said. 

A written memorandum will be sent to the Centre “within the next two days”, Ashoka said. “We have also permitted officials to move the Supreme Court with a special leave petition if there’s any decision that goes against our state,” he added. 

The Cabinet sub-committee is also considering shrinking the eco-sensitive zone around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries from a 10-km radius to just one km. “A 10-km buffer would end up covering villages and towns. We want to reduce this to a 1-km radius. This is still being discussed,” Ashoka said.