Thiruvananthapuram: Ruling CPI-M led LDF in Kerala today said it fully endorses the previous Congress led UDF government's policy that human habitations and cultivated land should not be included while notifying Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) in Western Ghats.
Replying to a notice seeking a debate on the matter in the Assembly, Forest Minister K Raju said the Centre had not issued a final notification on the matter and that National Green Tribunal has not taken a decision on it. There was no need for any anxiety among the people over the issue, he said.
"LDF fully endorses the policy of the previous UDF government that human habitations and agricultural areas should be exempted from ESA," he said.
Raju denied the UDF's charge that government had filed an affidavit in Kerala High Court, stating that 123 villages come under ESA and said the State Impact Assessment Authority had only filed a statement of facts in the Court in connection with a quarry related case.
He also recalled that Prakash Javadekar had made it clear when he was union minister for forests and environment that farmers need not worry over the report. No farmer would be evacuated from the area and their agriculture activities would not be stopped, he said, quoting Javadekar.
Law Minister A K Balan, who replied on behalf of Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan, said the LDF was committed to protecting the interests of farmers. Balan mentioned the unanimous resolution passed by the Kerala Assembly in 2014 when UDF was in power, asking the Centre to implement the Kasturirangan report only after considering the views of the state.
The resolution had also wanted to exempt from the ESA list, land under cultivation and habitation areas. "We fully stand by that resolution. The LDF is committed to protect the interests of farmers", Balan added.
Moving notice for the debate, Sunny Joseph (Congress) said the recent government affidavit that 123 villages come under ESA had caused anxiety among people in high range areas and demanded that government make its stand clear on the issue. Opposition leader Ramesh Chennithala said the UDF welcomed the government stand that there was no change in its policy on the Kasturigangan report. PTI