Sunday, January 5, 2014

Govt of Kerala should withdraw the new criteria fixed for demarcating Eco Sensitive Zones

6th January 2013


     The Principal Secretary,
     Department of Environment and Climate Change,
     Government of Kerala.

Respected Sir,

 SUB: Objection to the criteria suggested for the field verification and demarcation of Eco-Sensitive Zones under HLWG Report.

Kindly see the references. As per Ref No.2, the State governments are free to do field verification for detecting the Eco-Sensitive Zones and inform their opinion to the Ministry of Environment and Forest. In my opinion, HLWG report completely failed to address the ecological conservation in its sense, and participatory approach taken by the WGEEP report. It also failed to address the meaning of Eco Sensitive Zones with respect to various directions from Supreme Court and High Courts, in this regard. The HLWG report viz Kasturirangan Committee report, though a highly diluted report, has been accepted in principle by the MoEF which is not going to bring about the much needed ecologically sensitive and sensible planning across the Western Ghats outlined in WGEEP report or several attempts made prior to it.

The MoEF had also completely failed to keep the continuity of this attempt to protect the Western Ghats. The conclusion of the earlier attempts like Pranab Sen Committee report, various SC directions, suggestions of National Wildlife Board, WGEEP Report were not at all considered by the HLWG or even MoEF. HLWG report explicitly mentions that wildlife habitats are not considered, except the Tiger and Elephant corridors, while the demarcation of ESZ. This is a very serious failure of the HLWG Report. Therefore the un scientific criteria accepted by the HLWG report need not be followed by the State off Kerala.

Through the layered zonation approach WGEEP report has ensured that development related to rivers and   forests in the Western Ghats, the most critical to sustainable development in any landscape are brought under some sort of regulatory regime to ensure their continuity and ecological integrity. The HLWG report has meanwhile categorically divided forests and rivers between natural and cultural landscapes thus affecting their habitat and ecological continuity. For instance, studies world-wide, including in India indicate that freshwater biodiversity is even under greater threat than forest biodiversity. WGEEP perspective considers this properly, including in its specific consideration of riverine forests, whereas the HLWG just ignores it.

Now, as per Reference No.1, the State government has formed a committee, including the local officials, to conduct the field verification and to find the actual ESZ areas, by applying the accepted criteria of the ESZ. In the said government order, there are some directions issued to the officials.
1.   To demarcate the human inhabited, agricultural and plantation areas correctly and exclude all these areas from ESZ.
2.      To exclude the forest lands where the encroachment was happened before 1-1-1977 and regularized by the government.

  I am strongly opposing these directions, as it is issued without proper authority, and it will destroy the purpose of the ESZ declaration. These directions will further reduce the ESZ area to a large extend, and will allow to extend the destruction of Western Ghats into more areas. It will be counterproductive to the purposes enumerated in the WGEEP report or HLWG report. State government has no authority to direct excluding such areas from the demarcation or physical verification of ESZ.

As per Ref.2 OM, the officials and the State government are bound to follow the criteria accepted by the HLWG Report, which is explained in the pages 56 and 57 of the HLWG Report. It is very clear that, the population density of the village has taken into consideration only if the village area comes within the definition “High Biological Richness area with Medium Forest fragmentation”.  If the village comes within ‘Very high biological richness with low or medium forest fragmentation’, the village should have included in the ESZ without considering its population density.  If the village comes within ‘High biological richness with low forest fragmentation’, then also that village will have to be included in the ESZ without considering its population density. It is pertinent to note that, the any of the villages listed in the government order do not come within the definition of ‘High Biological Richness area with Medium Forest fragmentation’. A mere perusal of the forest records and the bio-diversity register prepared by the local bio-diversity management committees (BMC), we can easily understand that these villages are having the presence of so many endemic and threatened species, and definitely will come under the definition ‘very high biodiversity’. Since the fragmentation of the forest is very low, it has to be concluded that, in no way, the ‘population density’ can be taken as a criteria in those villages.

It is also evident from the WGEEP Report and HLWG report that, the area under agriculture and plantation is not a part of the accepted criteria for identifying ESZ. There is no role for such lands in identifying the ESZ. The directions from the Hon’ble Supreme Court in several cases including Goa Foundation Vs Union of India, also has to be followed while identifying the Eco sensitive Zone. The suggestions of the National Wildlife Advisory Board, in which the Hon’ble Prime Minister is the Chairman, also need to be followed. In none of the recommendations, population is a criterion for the exclusion of an area from ESZ. Neither under the EP Act nor under the OM dated 20-12-2013 referred in the above mentioned Govt order, the state government has got authority to fix new criteria for identifying the ESZ, other than following the existing criteria accepted by the Central Government as advised by Pranob Sen report, WGEEP report, or HLWG report. Hence, the new criteria prescribed in the above mentioned Government order for the demarcation of ESZs are unfair, unsustainable, anti environmental and illegal and therefore is liable to be withdrawn.

Considering the above mentioned arguments, I submit that state environment department is duty bound to accept the criteria declared by the WGEEP Report, Pranab Sen Committee, the Hon’ble Supreme Court, or at least the HLWG Report, while demarcating the eco sensitive areas of the Western Ghats. The direction to exclude populated areas and plantation areas are against the principles of conservation and the criteria accepted for identifying ESZ. I request you to withdraw that government order, reject the Oommen Committee report, and follow the legally accepted criteria in WGEEP Report for the demarcation of Eco Sensitive Zone.

          Thanking you,

                                            Yours sincerely,     
                                            Adv.Harish Vasudevan.      


bobby said...

First you should verify the excluded area you may undestand all quarries belong to pobson group are excluded from es a you never spke a single word aginst it since the enviormentalists eiter received somthing from them or fears them

bobby said...

First you should verify the excluded area you may undestand all quarries belong to pobson group are excluded from es a you never spke a single word aginst it since the enviormentalists eiter received somthing from them or fears them

Jobish Jose said...

Excerpts from Kasturirangan Report , please read it

While very high biological richness with low and medium fragmentation and high
biological richness with low fragmentation has been taken as ESA as such, the high
biological richness medium fragmentation class was included only where the
population density was lower than 100 persons/km2. The population data from the
2001 census (Govt. of India, 2001) was combined with spatial data on village
boundaries (Survey of India) to prepare a spatial layer on population density. The
reason that less than 100 person/km2 was chosen because in hilly areas the usual
density is<100 persons/km2.

And see how many areas having more than 100persons/sqkm have been notified as ESA.

Georgekutty Kizhakkekara said...

ഇപ്പോള്‍ ഹരീഷ് ഒരിക്കല്‍ ഒരു ടി . വി . ടോക്ക്‌ ഷോയില്‍ പറഞ്ഞതില്‍ നിന്നും മാറി ! ഗാട്ഗില്‍ പറഞ്ഞതില്‍ നിന്നും കസ്തൂരി മാറ്റം വരുത്തി .., ഗ്രാമ സഭകളെ സ്വീകരിച്ചില്ല ..., എന്നു തുടങ്ങി കുറെ ഗീര്‍വാണം ഞാന്‍ കേട്ടു അന്ന് ഹരീഷിന്റെ വക ! ഉമ്മന്‍ കമ്മിറ്റി പറഞ്ഞ പ്രകാരം ഞങ്ങളുടെ ഗ്രാമത്തില്‍ വന്ന കമ്മിറ്റി കേസുള്ള സ്ഥലങ്ങള്‍ കോടതി പറയും , വേറെ ഉള്ള സ്ഥലങ്ങളുടെ കാര്യം സംബന്തിച്ചു നമുക്ക് നോക്കാം.., നിങ്ങള്‍ രേഖകളുടെ പകര്‍പ്പുകള്‍ കൂടി ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് തരണം എന്നാണു പറഞ്ഞത് . അത്തരം സമീപനം ഗാട്ഗിലും ആവാമായിരുന്നൂ .., പിന്നാലെ വന്ന കസ്തൂരിക്കും ! ഗ്രാമീണ ജനതയെ കേള്‍ക്കുന്ന സമീപനം. പാറ പൊട്ടിക്കുമ്പോള്‍ കര്‍ഷക മണ്ണ് കിടുങ്ങുന്നു എന്നു നിങ്ങളെക്കാള്‍ അറിയുന്നവരും അനുഭവിക്കുന്നവരും ഞങ്ങള്‍ കൃഷിക്കാര്‍ ആണ് . മാഫിയകളുടെ പോക്രിത്തരം ഞങ്ങളുടെ തലയില്‍ വയ്ക്കരുത് !

Georgekutty Kizhakkekara said...

ഇന്ന് ഈ റിപ്പോര്‍ട്ടുകളില്‍ മലയോര കര്‍ഷകരെ പല തട്ടുകളില്‍ ആക്കി പല തരം പൌരന്മാരെ ഉണ്ടാക്കുകയും , അതോടൊപ്പം ബ്യുരോക്രസി എന്ന മേല്‍ത്തട്ട് വേറെ , പട്ടണ വാസി എന്ന വേറെ ഒരു തട്ടും , അതിനു താഴെ ഇട നാട്ടു കര്‍ഷകന്‍ എന്നാ വേറെ ഒരു തട്ടും..! പഴയ ജാതി വ്യവസ്ഥ മറ്റൊരു രൂപത്തില്‍ ! എന്നും മണ്ണില്‍ പണിയുകയും , ചെളി പറ്റുകയും ചെയ്യുന്നവന്‍ അഥമന്‍ ! കൊള്ളാം , പുത്തന്‍ വര്‍ഗീയതയുടെ ഈ ഉയര്‍ത്തെഴുന്നേല്‍പ്പ് ! ഒരിക്കലും സംഖടിക്കില്ല എന്നുറപ്പുള്ള ഒരു സമൂഹത്തിനു മേലുള്ള , പണ്ട് രാജാവിനും മേലെ കേറിയ ബ്രാമാന്ന്യ പുരോഹിത ബുദ്ധി ...! സമ്മതിച്ചു .....

Georgekutty Kizhakkekara said...

പഞ്ചായത്ത് വാര്‍ഡ്‌ മെമ്പര്‍മാര്‍ അറിയ്ന്നത് കര്‍ഷക വിഷമം കൊണ്ട് കൂടെ കുറെ നില്‍ക്കും .., നാളെയും ഞങ്ങളെ കാണണമല്ലോ ..! അവര്‍ക്കും വീതം ഉണ്ടേ ..! അതിനു മേലെ എല്ലാവരും വാങ്ങി ഉരുട്ടി തിന്നുന്നവര്‍...! ഞങ്ങള്‍ക്ക് അങ്ങിനെ കൊടുക്കാന്‍ വരുമാനം ഇല്ലാ.. , അതിനു ഒരു ആയിരം എക്രക്കൊക്കെ മുകളില്‍ ഉണ്ടെങ്കില്‍ പറ്റുമോ ആവുമോ ? അറിയില്ല.., ഇപ്പോഴത്തെ ചെലവ് വച്ചും, വരുമാനം കൊണ്ടും നോക്കിയാല്‍ ..

Georgekutty Kizhakkekara said...

അവിവേകം കുറച്ചു പറയണം എന്നുണ്ട് ...., നേരില്‍ കാണാന്‍ പറ്റുമ്പോള്‍ ...