Kerala Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan Wednesday said that his government would not take any action that would affect the lives and livelihood of the people with regard to fixing buffer zones for protected forest tracts in the state.
Addressing the media, Vijayan blamed the Opposition for creating misunderstandings among the people in the issue.
“The government has no ambiguity on the buffer zone issue. The Opposition is trying to hide real facts to spark emotional outburst from people against the government. The government is committed to ensuring that no action is taken to affect people’s lives even as it remains watchful in protecting the environment,’’ he said.
The chief minister’s remarks came in the wake of mounting protest from farmers in the hilly regions against an alleged faulty survey report on the structures in the proposed one-km buffer zone for 22 wildlife sanctuaries and protected forest belts in the state after the June verdict of the SC. The court wanted a report on the existing structures in the proposed zone abutting the forests.
Explaining the incidents that led to the present imbroglio, Vijayan said the Congress-led UPA government had introduced a 10 km buffer zone as part of its Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002. “During the second UPA regime, then Union Forest and Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had declared the buffer zone and he had been very obstinate about it. He had even blamed the state governments stating they were delaying the implementation of the buffer zone,’’ said Vijayan.
Vijayan said when the Centre wanted a 10 km buffer zone from the boundaries of forests, the Congress government in the state extended it to 12 km.