Bengaluru: With just 19 days left for Karnataka to submit its revised recommendations on the demarcation of the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) in the Western Ghats in the State, Dakshina Kannada BJP MP Nalin Kumar Kateel has said that if Karnataka fails to respond by August 25 — the deadline fixed by the Centre — the demarcation recommended by the Kasturirangan Committee would be deemed as final.
Kateel said that the delay is likely to have an impact on hundreds of villages that come under the purview of the ESZ in the Western Ghats section in Karnataka. As per the draft notification, based on the report of Kasturirangan Committee, 20,668 sqkm in Karnataka would come under ESZ, which includes 1,576 villages in eight districts of Karnataka including Kodagu district.
In Kodagu district, 102 sqkm of Pushpagiri Ranges, 105 sqkm of Talacauvery Range and 181 sqkm of Brahmagiri Ranges come under the ESZ. Some of the prominent villages that come under the ESZ in Kodagu are Bhagamandala, Karike, Tannimani, Cherangala, Sanna Pulikotu, Ayyangeri, Galibeedu, Kaloor, Hammiyala, Soorlabbi, Hachchinadu, Balugodu, Bhakthanahalli, Kumarahalli, Peggala, Badaga, Rudraguppe, Nangala, Kuttandi, Badagarakeri, Parakatageri, Theralu, T. Shettigeri, Kurchi, Kumatoor, Manchalli and Kutta.
At a meeting to discuss the Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) of the Western Ghats held under the Chairmanship of A.K. Mehta, Additional Secretary, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, on April 11 this year, the representative from Karnataka said that a Committee would be constituted after the Assembly Elections to look at the concerns of the State Government for developing a coherent approach in declaring the ESA of Western Ghats region.
Karnataka has argued that under different provisions of Reserve Forest, Protected Areas and ESZs, the State Government is already regulating about 22,000 sqkm of area in the Western Ghats region and as such, another layer of protection in the form of ESA may not be needed.
It is, however, not clear if the Committee has been formed by the State Government. The neighbouring Kerala Government submitted to the Centre its revised recommendations on the subject in June. The Centre had sought the views of Karnataka, Kerala, Maharashtra, Goa, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu.
The six States that share the range are trying to bring down the area under the proposed ESAs in the Western Ghats ranges. Once the ESZ is declared, restrictions would be imposed on human activity and development projects in villages in the forest periphery.
MLA Bopaiah reacts
Speaking to Star of Mysore this morning, Virajpet MLA K.G. Bopaiah said that the final notification has been done and there is still two years for it to come into effect. “In Kodagu district, there are four wildlife zones that will come under the Eco-Sensitive Zone — Nagarahole, Talacauvery, Brahmagiri and Pushpagiri wildlife — and the Kasturirangan Committee had recommended that 10 km area around the zones must be declared as Eco-Sensitive Zone. Later due to stiff opposition, it was reduced to one kilometre and not the entire villages,” he said. He said that the elected representatives in Kodagu and other places that come under Western Ghats have demanded the Centre to reduce the existing one kilometre radius to zero kilometres.
“Also, the State Government must constitute a Committee under the Regional Commissioner to study the areas and identify the places that will come under Eco-Sensitive Zones. This Committee, however, is not formed yet,” he added.
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