K'taka rejects Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats

Karnataka again rejects Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats

Karnataka has rejected the report as the ESA tag is feared to bring restrictions that the government believes will hamper development works

Karnataka CM Basavaraj Bommai. Credit: PTI file photo

Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday told the Centre that Karnataka is against declaring the Western Ghats as an ecological sensitive area (ESA) as that would hit the livelihoods of people.

Bommai said this during a meeting with Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav on the recommendations of the K Kasturirangan report on conserving the Western Ghats. Bommai attended the meeting virtually.

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 ESA.

"The Cabinet has decided - after consulting residents of the Western Ghats region, officials and other stakeholders - to oppose the implementation of the Kasturirangan Committee report," Bommai told the meeting, according to a statement from his office.

Karnataka has repeatedly rejected the report as the ESA tag is feared to bring restrictions that the government believes will hamper development works.

"Karnataka is proud to be one of the states having a large forest area. Even before there were laws, people (in the Western Ghats region) following environment-friendly agriculture and horticulture activities. They have been conscious of conserving the Western Ghats," Bommai said. "We already have the Biological Diversity Act, the Forest (Conservation) Act among others. It's not right to introduce another law that will affect the livelihood of people," he added.

Bommai also pointed out that the Kasturirangan Committee report is based on satellite surveys. "Ground reality is different. A physical survey of every acre will show the environment-friendly lifestyle of people," he said.

According to the chief minister's office, Yadav assured Karnataka that a team of officials will be sent to Karnataka for talks.

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