Thiruvananthapuram: The opposition Congress on Wednesday found fault with the Kerala government over the buffer zone issue, saying it could have carried out the field survey much before and also urged it to submit a fresh report in the Supreme Court after conducting a manual survey in the region.
It also asked the LDF government to seek more time from the apex court to submit the new report instead of the old one as concerns among the local people are growing on the demarcation of the buffer zone, based on the recent directive of the top court. In June, the Supreme Court had directed that a buffer zone of 1-km be maintained around forests and sanctuaries across the country. Challenging this, both the Centre and the Kerala government had filed review pleas in the apex court.
In the judgement passed on June 3, the top court had directed to conduct a survey in the areas declared as buffer zone and a satellite survey, if necessary, to provide accurate information in three months, said V D Satheesan, Leader of Opposition in the state Assembly. "But, the survey was not conducted even though there was enough time after the judgement, '' he told reporters here. Instead of fresh information, the state government is now providing to the apex court details from the survey conducted during the period 2020-21, he pointed out.
The LoP also expressed concerns over the reaction of the Supreme Court when the government goes with an old survey report, even after it suggested conducting a new survey. "The new survey should have an accurate count of buildings, falling within the buffer zone limit.
The number of buildings such as houses, churches, government offices, hospitals and schools should be counted. It should be a survey report which is at least 90 percent correct," Satheesan suggested. Noting that the apex court should be convinced through this report that densely populated and agricultural areas are falling within buffer zones, he said a manual survey should be conducted for this. "The manual survey should begin in January itself.
Not just with the support of the Forest department, but it should be done with the cooperation of the local bodies and the revenue department as well." The Congress's criticism came a day after the Left government had announced its decision to publish the draft buffer zone map, which was already sent to the Centre. The decision was taken on Tuesday at a high level meeting, chaired by Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, that was held to discuss the buffer zone issue which is creating ripples across the state with the Catholic church spearheading the movement to exclude populated areas from it.