Karnataka Chief Minister Basavaraj Bommai on Saturday, December 4 opposed declaring the Western Ghats as an ecologically sensitive zone as it would adversely affect the livelihood of the people in the region. Participating in a virtual meeting on the implementation of the Kasturirangan report on the Western Ghats, chaired by Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Labour Bhupinder Yadav, Bommai strongly presented the state's stand.
"Declaring Western Ghats as an ecologically sensitive zone would adversely affect the livelihood of the people in the region. So the Karnataka government and the people living in the region are opposed to implementation of the Kasturirangan report," Bommai said. He drew the attention of the participants to the fact that the state cabinet had decided to oppose the Kasturirangan report. The decision had been taken after exhaustive discussions with people of the Western Ghat region and officials.
Karnataka has the distinction of being one of the states with extensive forest cover and the state government has taken extreme care to protect the biodiversity of the Western Ghats, Bommai said, adding that the people of the region have adopted agriculture and horticultural activities in an eco-friendly manner.
"Priority has been accorded for environment protection under the Forest Protection Act. In this background, bringing one more law that would affect the livelihood of the local people is not appropriate," he said.
The Kasturirangan report has been prepared based on satellite images, but the ground reality is different, Bommai claimed.
Yadav assured the state that officers from the Union Environment and Forests Department would visit the state before taking any decision, the chief minister's office said in a statement.