Kerala's expert panel locates 70,582 buildings in buffer zones; most number of structures in Wayanad

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Thiruvananthapuram: According to the report of the expert panel handed over to the state government on Wednesday, Kerala has 70,582 in the one-kilometre buffer zone around the 20 protected forests in the state. The state government perceives the increased number of buildings as favourable to the state’s interests in the issue. The number of constructions in the proposed buffer zone has gone up by more than 20,000 compared to the initial report.

The panel chaired by retired Justice Thottathil B Radhakrishnan had considered the complaints of the public regarding the draft report that was published months ago. The government will now examine the report and submit it to the Supreme Court via the chief wildlife warden to present its case before it. Kerala argues in its appeal against the Supreme Court's 2022 decision of establishing buffer zones around protected forests that the order has serious implications in the state.

In the initial report prepared with the support of satellite images, only 49,374 buildings were recorded in the buffer zone areas in the state. An expert panel to review this report was formed following the protests of people residing in the proposed buffer zone regions. The complaints were received through local self-government institutions.

Most of the constructions are spotted around the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary. It went up from 13,577 in the first report to 20,045 in the latest. The lowest number of constructions has been reported around Karimpuzha wildlife sanctuary.

The report confirms the border, shape and area of each buffer zone encircling the protected forests. The collected data has been recorded in the repository of Kerala State Remote Sensing and Environment Centre.

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