Kerala today asked the Kasturirangan Working Group, set up to study the controversial Gadgil panel report on the Western Ghats, to seek opinion from the people who would be ‘adversely affected’ by implementation of the recommendations.

Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, during a meeting with the group headed by eminent space scientist and Planning Commission member K. Kasturirangan, mooted this idea here.

The nine-member group was set up by the Environment Ministry in the wake of opposition by several States, including Kerala, to the Madhav Gadgil committee report which has termed the Western Ghats as an extremely ecologically sensitive region and favoured restricted mining and other development activities.

Considering the State Government’s request, the working group members would visit Idukki and Waynad districts, where the adverse impact of the Gadgil report was more, Kasturirangan said after his meeting with the Chief Minister.

The State also presented before the committee its declared stand that most of the recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil committee on the Western Ghats were ‘impractical’ to implement. It had demanded a relook into the entire report.

The State’s stand that most of the recommendations were unrealistic was formalised at an all-party meeting yesterday.

“The Centre’s policy is to give certain exclusions to the States that best protect the forests, but in the case of Kerala which is the front runner in protecting the environment, decisions in the report were not favourable”, it was pointed out in the all-party meet.

Cutting across party politics, members of the State Assembly had also expressed similar sentiments during a debate on the issue held last month. The Assembly had also passed a resolution calling for withdrawal of the report.

The terms of the committee are to examine the Gadgil Committee report ‘in a holistic and multidisciplinary fashion keeping in view the comments received from the concerned State Governments, central ministries, and stakeholders.

The Western Ghats is one of the hot spots of biological diversity identified globally and has many endemic species of flowering plants, endemic fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, mammals and invertebrates.

(This article was published on January 19, 2013)
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