The Kerala government on Wednesday, July 27, decided to exclude residential and agricultural areas as well as government, semi-government and public institutions from the one-kilometre-wide eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). The decision was taken in the Cabinet meeting held during the day, a release from the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) said. It said that taking into account the objections received against a Union government draft notification which included residential areas around 23 wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in the state, the Cabinet decided to approve the Forest Department's proposal to exclude such areas, agricultural land, and the various public institutions from the ESZ.
The Forest and Wildlife Department's proposal has also been forwarded to the Union government. Later, state Forest Minister AK Saseendran told reporters that with the latest Cabinet decision, the earlier one regarding the ESZ or buffer zones would cease to exist. He said the Forest and Wildlife Department has been tasked with taking the matter forward, including moving the Supreme Court, after holding discussions with the Advocate General.
The top court had on June 3 pronounced the verdict to create a one-km eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around all wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, which is generally considered to affect the normal life of people living in such areas of the southern state for decades. The Kerala Legislative Assembly had earlier this month unanimously passed a resolution requesting the Union government to exempt inhabited places and agricultural lands in the state while implementing the one-km wide eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around forests and sanctuaries as directed by the Supreme Court.
Besides the buffer zone issue, the Cabinet meeting decided to also grant administrative approval to the construction of an educational complex in Pinarayi village of Kannur district, the release said. The complex would be spread over 12.93-acre land and would be constructed with funding from KIIFB, it said. Kerala State Information Technology Infrastructure Limited (KSITIL) would be appointed as a special purpose vehicle for the construction work which would be coordinated by the Institute of Human Resources Development, the CMO release said.
Another important decision taken by the Cabinet was to approve the 100 million euro funding from French bank AFD for the resilient Kerala developmental programme to be implemented under the re-build Kerala initiative, the release said.