ESZ: Kerala to conduct direct survey to confirm findings of satellite study

Farmers take part in a rally against the Supreme Court order on ESZ, at Wayanad | Mathrubhumi file photo

Thiruvananthapuram: Kerala will conduct a direct survey besides the satellite study to analyse the impact of 1km-long ecologically sensitive zones surrounding the protected forest areas of Kerala. The decision was taken in a high-level meeting chaired by chief minister Pinarayi Vijayan.

The study is part of the state move to convince the Supreme Court that its order has a serious impact on the livelihood of lakhs of people in Kerala. Earlier, SC had directed a satellite survey.

The direct survey will be used for confirming the findings of the satellite survey. Statistics of buildings, institutions, other constructions, land use will be noted.

An expert committee will be set up to prepare a final report that has to be submitted to SC. However, the members of the committee have not been decided. A temporary report will be prepared in one month. The deadline for the final report is three months.

Chief secretary would collate the information collected by departments of local self-government, revenue, agriculture and forest. The expert committee will analyse this too.

As many as 115 villages in Kerala come under the buffer zone.

No cancellation of 2019 order

Forest minister AK Saseendran and law minister P Rajeev told the Assembly on Monday that the state would not cancel its 2019 order of establishing 1km-long buffer zones.

According to the opposition, a 2019 Cabinet decision had in-principle decided that there should be a one-km wide buffer zone.

The opposition said that if the state government does not set aside or withdraw its earlier decision of 2019 on buffer zones and issue a new one as per the Cabinet decision of July 27, then it will suffer a setback in the apex court and before the empowered committee.

Saseendran and Rajeev refused it.

The apex court on June 3 directed that each protected forest, including national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, must have an ESZ of one km and banned mining activities within such parks across the nation.

The top court came on a batch of applications filed on a pending PIL (public interest litigation) of 1995 and they raised two sets of issues with the first one related to mining activities in and around Jamua Ramgarh, a wildlife sanctuary, in Rajasthan.

The second set of issues was related to prescribing ESZs surrounding the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks.

(With PTI inputs)

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