Chandy, team to put the demand before Prime Minister

Kerala, facing a searing drought, will urge the Centre to sanction it a special Rs. 4,000-crore relief package. Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and his Cabinet colleagues will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with the request during their visit to Delhi on Monday and Tuesday.

Two wildlife sanctuaries — Silent Valley National Park and Wayanad — have been closed to visitors since Friday following high fire risk.

Scanty summer showers and dried vegetation have heightened the fire risk in most of the protected areas of the State. The restriction on tourism activities and curbs on visitors were enforced at the sanctuaries to minimise risk of fire, said V. Gopinath, Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala. Though sporadic incidents of fire were reported from some forest areas in the State, the situation was under control, Mr. Gopinath said.

The State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) has decided not to grant environmental clearance to any proposals coming under the Ecologically Sensitive Zone-1 of the Western Ghats.

The decision comes in the wake of a direction issued by the National Green Tribunal that the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report should be considered while granting environmental clearance to projects in the ESZ-1 in the Western Ghats. ESZ-I areas are those which fall outside the boundaries of wildlife sanctuaries and reserve forests but have been given the status of a protected area in the WGEEP report.

Environmentalists under the banner of the Western Ghats Protection Council has said there is a concerted move in Idukki district to limit the debate on the environmental crisis to the Madhav Gadgil report with a view to diverting people’s attention from the real issue.

Environmentalist John Peruvanthanam said the present drought situation was the worst in Idukki district, especially in the high ranges, with perennial streams drying up.

Hotels And Resorts Can Build Only Up To 3 Floors In These Areas

Thiruvananthapuram: An expert committee appointed by the state government to demarcate the eco sensitive zones (ESZ) around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries has recommended stringent regulations for construction of buildings in these zones. It has suggested capping the height for hotels and resorts in the ESZ area to three floors besides limiting the construction area to 7,500 sqft.

WGEEP Had Sought Ban In Eco-Sensitive Zones

Thiruvanathapuram: Green activists in the state have expressed their shock over the government’s response to the recommendations of the Western Ghats Expert Ecology Panel (WGEEP) that seek a ban on mining activities in the ecosensitive zones (ESZ) in Kerala. The government, in its response, said that a complete ban of mining in ESZs would put lakhs of migrant labourers from other states at the receiving end and would create unpredictable and adverse consequences in the industrial, economic, labour and social sectors in the state.

Thrissur: A panel constituted to work on demarcating ecologically-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the state on Monday visited the Silent Valley National Park in Palakkad and held deliberations with the public.

The panel members, comprising MLAs T N Prathapan, N Shamsudeen and state wildlife board officials, decided to recommend to the Union ministry of environment and forests to declare the entire 148-sq km buffer zone around the park as an ecologically-sensitive zone.

Board nod must for pushing State’s case for new dam

The State Wildlife Board on Thursday will decide on a request for conducting an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) study for the new Mullaperiyar dam in the Periyar Tiger Reserve area and the declaration of eco-sensitive zones around wildlife sanctuaries of Kerala.

The first meeting of the recently reconstituted board will take up a proposal for an increase in the water level of the Peppara dam in Thiruvananthapuram. The clearance of the board is required for pushing the State’s application for the new dam. The delay in reconstituting the board had delayed the proceedings in the case.

Idukki will get Rs one crore for drought relief works as part of a Rs 125 crore Central fund for various development projects in the five assembly constituencies of the district, P. T. Thomas, MP, has said.

He said that Rs 50 crore has been sanctioned under the Idukki Package and Rs 75 crore for construction of 34 roads under the Prime Minister's Gramin Saadak Yojana Scheme.

The Kerala Assembly on Thursday adopted a substantive motion proposing that the Madhav Gadgil Committee report recommending measures for conservation of the Western Ghats should be implemented only after wider consultations, and with public participation.

The impractical proposals in the expert panel report should not be approved. A practical approach incorporating the developmental needs of the people and localities should be adopted while taking measures for protection of the Western Ghats.

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