Mangaluru: Minister for Forest, Ecology & Environment (FEE) and district minister in-charge, Ramanath Rai held a press meet at the Circuit House here, on September 14.
Addressing the mediapersons, Rai said that there have been allegations that the proposal on delineation of Eco-sensitive Areas (ESA) in the Western Ghats of Karnataka were not submitted, but the proposal has already been submitted to the Secretary of MoEF Government of India, Dr V Rajgopalan by the Additional Chief Secretary of FEE Dept M Madan Gopal on September 1. “Earlier, we had submitted the same proposal on April 24, 2014. Maharastra, Goa and Gujarat and many other states did not submit the proposal yet.”
He also said that the state government has recommended only areas falling under reserved forests, protected areas (wild life sanctuaries and National Parks) and the proposed Eco-sensitive zones in the 40 taluks of the Western Ghat area of the state as the eco-sensitive areas. This stand of the state government was also brought to the notice of the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Climate Change during the meeting of State Environment & Forest Ministers called for the purpose at Indira Pryavaran Bhavan, New Delhi on July 7, 2015.
When asked about his stand on the Yettinahole project, Rai said, “From the forest in Sakleshpur under Hassan district, 13.92 hectares land is required for the project. So far, the work in the forest in Sakleshpur has not yet started. 13.92 hectares of deemed forest land was demanded for the project and as a forest minister, I have given the clearance. I am a part of the government. There were many ministers present when opposition was in power. When the project was sanctioned after being discussed with all the cabinet members, I was only an MLA then.
When asked whether he will come for discussions on September 19 to answer 10 questions on the project, Rai said that he would call for a meeting. “The project was sanctioned when Sadananda Gowda was the Chief Minister. Why is the BJP not blaming him now? All the cabinet members discussed on this issue then and decided to pass the project.”
When asked about Sadananda Gowda’s statement that he is not the state minister but the Union minister now and about his firm decision, Rai said that Gowda cannot say that now because he is a proponent of the project.
When asked about the opposition of the people of DK but silence maintained by the elected representatives, Rai said, “I cannot take the decision individually. It is a collective decision of all the leaders. Whatever the government decides, I will go by it accordingly. It is not the responsibility of a single person; it is the responsibility of the government. We cannot blame Sadananda Gowda or Veerappa Moily individually, all the elected members including opposition of the state sanctioned the project; no one should be hypocrite. All the members of the cabinet are responsible for the project.”
When asked about the statements made that Rai will be included in the murder of the Yettinahole river along with Sadananda Gowda and Veerappa Moily, Rai said that Sadananda Gowda or Veerappa Moily cannot sanction this project alone. “This is the decision of the government and we all have to support it. Even if DK representatives oppose this project, there are many ministers from other districts who may support it while there were very few from DK. When Congress does something, people talk, but why do they not talk about the BJP?” he questioned.
When asked if he would resign if the project was not stopped, Rai replied, “I am not the only one responsible for the project, and there is no need of any resignation.”
MLC Ivan D’Souza, Mayor Jacintha Alfred, MUDA Chairman Ibrahim Kodijal, former Mayor Sashidhar Hegde and others were also present.