MLA Harish Punja should read Kasturirangan Report before Commenting – Ramanath Rai
Mangaluru: “MLA Harish Punja is saying that the former Forest minister has not done anything to stop the Kasturirangan Report from being implemented. But when I was the minister I have taken the opinion of the concerned authorities and the people and written a letter on 22 April 2017 to the Central government to reject the Kasturirangan Report as Karnataka does not need it. Once we send the report it is up to the Central government to reject or accept it. We have sent the letter thrice opposing to the Kasturirangan report but the NDA government in the Center is getting ready to implement the same. The MLA of Beltangady, Harish Punja is saying that being a forest minister Ramanath Rai did not take any initiative to reject the Kasturirangan Report which is far from the truth. If the Central government will not reject the report, I will take the initiative and start the agitation against it”, said former minister Ramanath Rai in a press meet held at the DCC office here on August 16.
Addressing the mediapersons Ramanath Rai said, “When I wrote the letter to the Central government on April 22, 2017, mentioning that the opinion was collected from the representatives and concerned authorities after the cabinet sub-committee had met them. According to the Kasturirangan Report, it was asked to re-check the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) zone in the Ministers Empowered Committee meeting which was held in New Delhi on July 7, 2015. But on September 4, 2015, the central government had issued a draft without any assurances. It was also mentioned in the letter that without discussing with the people the report will not be implemented. The Cabinet Sub Committee had discussed this issue with the elected members. The state government had taken measures to bring to the notice of the central government about the objection of the people on the draft of the Kasturirangan report. In 2015, the Dehradun forest report mentioned that Karnataka has 30,573 sq km of forest land which is higher than the ESA limit of 26,668 sq km. If the Kasturirangan report will be implemented locals will face problems so we had requested to reject the report.”
Ramanath Rai further said, “The central government should take the decision because Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu come under this. Gujarat and Tamilnadu have not responded to the letter sent by the central government. Karnataka does not need the Kasturirangan Report. We have come to know that the central government will implement the Kasturirangan Report. We have already refused the Kasturirangan report thrice but the Central government blames us saying that we did not respond. MLA Harish Punja has realized that the BJP government is implementing this report and he is blaming the former forest minister. His accusations are far from the truth and we all should oppose it. If the Central government will not reject the report we will hold protests against it.”
Addressing the mediapersons Khader said, “Instead of blaming the former minister, the opposition leaders should join hands to stop the Kasturirangan report from being implemented. They should forget party differences and work for the welfare of the people. When Ramanath Rai was the forest minister, he has done his duty well and written thrice to the government opposing the report. But the opposition is blaming the former minister, if Ramanath Rai would not have sent the letters, the NDA government would have implemented the Kasturirangan report by now. It is the duty of all the elected members, MLAs and MPs to join hands to pressurize the NDA government to stop the Kasturirangan report from being implemented.”
U T Khader further said, “Due to heavy rains the people of Kerala are facing problems. The District Congress will send relief materials to Wayanad. A control room will be opened in the District Congress office and all kind of help will be rendered to the people of Wayanad. District Congress leaders will take the responsibility for sending the relief material to Wayanad.”
Mayor Bhasker, former Mayor Sashidhar Hegde, Ibrahim Kodijal and others were also present.