The recommendations of the committee of experts headed by Oommen V. Oommen that reviewed the K. Kasturirangan report on Western Ghats are “very positive,” said Bishop Mathew Anikkuzhikattil of Idukki.

The bishop, who is patron of the High Range Samrakshana Samiti that has mounted an intense campaign against both the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports, told Business Line that the Oommen report would save the High Range farmers to a large extent.

He pointed out that the Oommen committee’s recommendations would exclude most of the villages designated as ‘ecologically sensitive area’ (ESL) by the Kasturirangan report. The Kasturirangan committee had included 48 of the 64 (revenue) villages in Idukki district as ESL, thus heavily restricting land use.

The Oommen report that reviewed the Kasturirangan report has recommended that plantations, inhabited areas and farmed land be excluded from the ESL coverage. This would be a great relief to thousands of farmers and residents in the High Range region, Bishop Anikkuzhikattil said.

The Catholic Church is in the forefront of the campaign against the Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports as it believes these reports would hurt the interests of Christian settlers and farmers in Western Ghats.