Nation Current Affairs 08 Mar 2017 Karnataka: ESZ dagge ...

Karnataka: ESZ dagger hangs over 1576 Ghat villages; Forest Minister Rai blames BJP

DECCAN CHRONICLE. | DECCAN CHRONICLE
Published Mar 8, 2017, 3:28 am IST
Updated Mar 8, 2017, 7:47 am IST
Once the Eco-Sensitive Zone is declared, restrictions would be imposed on human activity and development projects in villages in the forest periphery.
 Once the Eco-Sensitive Zone is declared, restrictions would be imposed on human activity and development projects in villages in the forest periphery.

Bengaluru: The political blame-game over the state filing objections to the Centre's draft notification on declaring the Western Ghats as an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) continued on Tuesday with Forest Minister Ramanath Rai blaming the  Union government and the Bharatiya Janata Party for  playing with the sentiments of people of Karnataka.

Once the Eco-Sensitive Zone is declared, restrictions would be imposed on human activity and development projects in villages in the forest periphery. As per the draft notification prepared based on the report by the Kasturirangan committee, 20,668 sq km in the state would come under the Eco-Sensitive Zone, which included 1,576 villages in eight districts.

Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, Mr Rai said that the state government had filed its objection with the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) three times, but the Centre had taken a unilateral decision and stuck to its original draft.

 In 2014, the government filed an interim report, seeking deletion of 1571 sq km from the purview of the Eco-Sensitive Zone. When the MoEF did not agree with the interim report, two more reports were filed. However, the Centre is still holding on to the original draft notification, Mr Rai said.

The objection report was prepared by senior IFS officer, who traveled across notified areas.

The opinions of Gram Sabhas were incorporated in the report. When the Forest Ministry convened a meeting of Members of the Parliament of the area to discuss the issue, only Uttara Kannada MP Ananth Kumar Hegde, Mangaluru MP Naveen Kumar Kateel and Rajya Sabha MP Oscar Fernandes attended.

Even Shivamogga MP B.S. Yeddyurappa and Udupi-Chikamagaluru MP Shobha Karandlaje were absent.

“What is the point in taking an all-party delegation to the Centre when they (MPs) are not concerned about the state's stand?” he wondered responding to the Bharatiya Janata Party demand. When asked about allegations that the state did not submit objections in the proper format to the MoEF, Mr Rai said he had submitted the objection report during a meeting convened by then Union Forest and Environment Minister Mr Prakash Javadekar in Bengaluru itself. Even Bharatiya Janata Party leaders were present during the meeting and their present stance was politically motivated, Mr Rai charged. On Kerala government representatives meeting the Environment Minister and getting relief from the ESZ norms, Mr Rai said that Kerala had submitted its objections before Karnataka. “Soon after our government came to power, we started working on the issue and submitted the interim report to the MoEF,” Mr Rai added.

He said the state government would object to the draft notification and would submit another report to MoEF, since 50 days remained before the final notification on the Eco-Sensitive Zone was issued by the Centre.

Forest Minister Ramanath Rai said the government had information about `mischief' behind the fire at Kappathgudda forest reserve, which gutted over 30 hectares of forest. There was also information about some people setting forests on fire in the Bandipur Tiger Reserve. During this season, around 100 hectares of forests in protected areas had been gutted, of which 40 hectares was in Bandipur and another 30 hectares in Kappathgudda, Mr Rai said. However, he did not had any data about the amount of fire lines created to prevent fire nor on the death of animals due to the fire.  Officials claim that in Bandipur alone, the government  had created over 1800 km of fire lines(space created between forests) spending Rs 4800 per km. That amounts to Rs 81.4 lakh for the fire lines alone but they could not prevent one of the worst fires in history, which killed a forest guard and injured three others.

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Location: India, Karnataka, Bengaluru




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