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Western Ghats: Kerala govt panel wants further easing of fragile land norms news
04 January 2014

A committee appointed by the Kerala government to study the Kasturirangan report has recommended changes in the clauses of 'environmentally fragile land' (EFL) in the Western Ghats, even as former chairman of the Kerala State Biodiversity Board V S Vijayan on Friday claimed that the Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats was not legally maintainable and asked authorities to reject it.

The high level working group on Western Ghats headed by K Kasturirangan has "sabotaged" recommendations of Madhav Gadgil's recommendations on conservation of the Ghats and environment equilibrium, he said.

The committee set up by the state government in the wake of widespread agitations by interested groups submitted its report to chief minister Oommen Chandy on Friday.

The committee has recommended a halt to land acquisition proceedings according to the Kasturirangan committee report.

The committee also recommended exclusion of those who have land up to 5 acres from the purview of the EFL clause.

Committee chairman Oommen V Oommen said most of the complaints against the Kasturirangan committee report stemmed from the inclusion of 123 villages across the Western Ghats in Kerala in the EFL list. Most of these villages are agricultural and thickly populated areas.

This evoked a series of agitations in the state that sometimes culminated into violent incidents.

The so-called High Range Protection Committee, a group that has strong interests in the exploitation of the Western Ghats, with active support from Catholic Church has been more vocal in its opposition to the report.

A section of the protesters had earlier set on fire the forest offices in Thamarassery in Wayanad district to destroy records of forest land holdings.

According to the Oommen committee report, the Kasturirangan committee as well as the original Madhav Gadgil committee erred in using satellite data for determining the EFL areas. Even plantations and estates were included in EFL areas, the committee pointed out.

Meanwhile, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at a press conference in Delhi on Friday that the final decision on the implementation of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan Committee report will be taken only after state governments submit their views on the report.


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Western Ghats: Kerala govt panel wants further easing of fragile land norms