BENGALURU: Expressing serious displeasure at the Union government for issuing a notification for the implementation of the Kasturirangan report while ignoring its concerns, the Karnataka government is again set to file its objections.
The Union government has notified the Kasturirangan report for the third time, after twice inviting objections from the concerned states—Gujarat, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala. The notification has drawn Karnataka’s ire with the state government accusing the Centre of ignoring its objections.
According to the notification, about 20,668 square kilometres area in the state—which includes 1,576 villages—has been declared eco-sensitive zone.
The notification, if implemented, would not permit development works as change in land-use would not be allowed, thereby leading to ban on construction of schools, hospitals and roads in these villages.
It may also lead to farmers not being granted land rights and would also affect the existing plantations like coffee and tea.
Speaking to reporters here on Tuesday, Forest and Environment minister Ramanath Rai accused the Union government of betraying the people of the Western Ghats and farmers of Karnataka.
"The Union government has shown a bias against Karnataka," Rai said pointing to the fact that the Centre has dropped many villages from eco-sensitive zone in Kerala after the neighbouring state submitted its objections.
"We will file our objections for the third time soon and also lead an all party delegation to meet the Prime Minister, if necessary, to protect the interests of these 1,576 villages," Rai said.
When asked about Kerala’s submission of its objections through reports from Gram Sabhas which were based on physical survey of areas rather than satellite image-based surveys, Rai said Karnataka too had submitted its report after spot visit by officials.
However, the reply was evasive on the question of whether it was done through Gram Sabhas.
The notification for implementation of Kasturirangan report has ignited political blame games between the ruling Congress and the BJP.
"Except Nalin Kumar Katil and Ananthkumar Hegde, none of the BJP MPs bothered to attend a meeting convened by the Union government to seek Karnataka's objections against the report. Even BJP state president BS Yeddyurappa and senior party MP Shobha Karandlaje stayed away from the meeting. This shows their irresponsibility in protecting the interests of our state. They have no moral right to blame the state government," Rai said.
Foul play behind forest fires
About 100 hectares (250 acres) of forest has been destroyed in the recent fires in Bandipur, Kappatagudda and Biligiri Ranganatha Swamy Temple Wild Life Sanctuary, according to Ramanath Rai.
The Forest department sees involvement of the mining lobby and other vicious forces behind these fires. "We have ordered a CID probe to find the real cause of these fires," Rai said.
"The chances of accidental fires causing such havoc so frequently are remote. We have reasons to believe there was a foul play," he said while denying allegations of lapses in preparations to prevent and fight forest fires by the Forest department.