Fear over Gadgil report baseless: panel member


• Says traditional communities will not be disturbed
• ‘Illegal miners and encroachers will be affected’

KOTTAYAM: V.S. Vijayan, a member of the Gadgil Committee on Western Ghats and a former chairman of the State Bio diversity Board, has said the apprehensions over the report are baseless as the traditional communities in the area will not be disturbed.
‘‘The only ones who will be adversely affected will be the illegal miners and encroachers,’’ he said while speaking at a seminar organised by the Samajwadi Janparishad on Friday (February 15, 2013)on the report.
Instead of blatantly opposing the report, the leaders should study the 520-page report, he said.
He reminded that the committee was constituted after the revelation that over 70 per cent of the wealth of the Western Ghats had already been destroyed.
This had happened in a short span of time between 1920 and 1994.
He said the recommendations, including a ban on chemical pesticides and genetically-modified (GM) seeds, would have to be implemented in a phased manner, giving enough time for the restructuring of traditional communities to adjust themselves to the new regime.
He said construction work in zones two and three too would not be banned as being feared. Restrictions on construction work had been placed in these zones only to put an end to the mindless destruction of natural resources, he said.
The report took care of the energy needs and had allowed smaller projects in zone one and two and larger ones in zone three, he said.
While the report ensured the protection of forest land in the Western Ghats, it had also taken care of the interests of the farming community who would be the biggest beneficiaries of the sustainable development of the area, he said.
None of the farmers who legally possessed land would have to vacate it. And the leases of all the estates which were functioning without violating the rules could be renewed, he said.
Writer O.V. Usha inaugurated the meeting. Parishad leaders Joshy Jacob, Jaimon Thankachan, and others spoke on the occasion.

THE HINDU, February 17, 2013

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