Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan has said that the state would approach the Union government for relaxation in the eco-sensitive zone matter. The Supreme Court had on June 3 ordered that at least 1 km of eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) from forest land be maintained. However, the court order said that the minimum width of ESZ can be diluted in overwhelming public response but for that, the state should approach the Central empowered committee and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), Government of India.
Addressing a public programme at Kannur on the World Environment Day, the Chief Minister said that the state will approach the Ministry of Environment and the Government of India for relaxation on the ESZ in Kerala.
He said that the population density in these areas is high and that the Government cannot turn its back on the woes of the people. Vijayan said that the state government is also contemplating to approach the Supreme Court and fight the case legally.
Meanwhile, state forest minister A.K. Saseendran after a high-level meeting of forest and environment department officials said that the state would present its case to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) and would explore options to convince the Supreme Court on the situation in Kerala.
It may be noted that around 1 lakh families in 20 towns of Kerala will be affected by the order of the Supreme Court. There are 24 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Kerala and providing 1 km of eco-sensitive zone around all these forests would take 2.5 lakh acres of human habitation. The population density in Kerala is 860 people per square km while at the national level it is 360 people per square km.
Political parties and farmers’ movements in Kerala have also opposed the order and want the state government to implead in the case in the Supreme Court and also put pressure on the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
Speaking to IANS, Rajesh Nair, a farmer from Idukki, said, “The order has to be challenged and the state government implead in the Supreme Court. We have to also present our case with the Ministry of Environment and Forests, Government of India to prevent this.”