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Kerala cabinet to amend 2019 order; residential areas to be excluded from buffer zone


Thiruvananthapuram: The Kerala cabinet has decided to exclude residential areas from the buffer zone surrounding protected forests. The government will amend the controversial order issued in 2019. The cabinet also asked the forest department to move the Supreme Court for taking further action in the row over buffer zone.

In 2019, the Kerala government issued an order directing to identify areas within the one-kilometre radius around protected forest ranges as buffer zone. The order stated that no relaxation will be given to residential areas. Opposition and others pointed out this anomaly as the reason for the present issues including the Supreme Court order on Eco-Sensitive Zones. Residents in the forest range also expressed concern over the same. Following this, the cabinet decided to amend the order.

Till now, both Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan and forest minister A K Saseendran had argued that the government had in 2020 itself asked the Centre to exempt from the buffer zone areas with high population density and having government and quasi-government institutions within its fold. It was also said that a proposal to this effect had been submitted to the Centre. The government has now received legal advice saying that this was not sufficient and that the 2019 order should be promptly amended to exclude populated areas from the buffer zones. The government was told that as long as the 2019 order remained in force, it would harm Kerala’s case in the Supreme Court that it wanted all human habitations excluded from the buffer zone.



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