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Sangh sticks to Ghats stand

Thiruvananthapuram, Aug. 31: The Narendra Modi government’s move to shelve the Madhav Gadgil report and opt for the Kasturirangan panel recommendations for protection of the Western Ghats doesn’t seem to have enthused the RSS, which has iterated its stand calling for a national debate.

“The RSS stands by its Akhil Bharatiya Karyakari Mandal statement on the Gadgil-Kasturirangan report. The RSS is of the opinion that contentious issues should be sorted out by consensus of experts. A national debate to evolve consensus is desirable,” RSS joint general secretary Dattatreya Hosabole said in a statement.

The Mandal, which had met in Kochi in October 2013, was critical of the UPA II government for unilaterally “dumping” the Gadgil report and had argued that many of its suggestions were in “larger national interest”.

The October statement, as appearing on the webpage of RSS media cell Viswa Samvad Kendra, had said: “The Madhav Gadgil panel report on the preservation of the Western Ghats eco-system is a landmark report. It is unfortunate that instead of placing the recommendations of the panel before the people and allowing a national debate, the government of India chose to dump it completely.”

Earlier this week, the Narendra Modi government chose to ignore the RSS view and said in an affidavit before the Chennai bench of the National Green Tribunal that it would go with the Kasturirangan report. The stand — which echoes that of UPA II — went against the BJP’s own election promise of implementing the Gadgil report if it came to power.

The RSS statement in October had said: “The report by the committee headed by eminent scientist Dr. Kasturirangan may be a first step, but we are of the view that it is not sufficient. We call upon the central and concerned state governments to reconsider their decisionů.”

In a coincidence, the issue has come up at a time RSS chief Mohan Bhagwat is on a five-day tour of Kerala where the Western Ghats protection is a contentious topic. Bhagwat’s schedule is mostly in Idukki district, where the protests against the Gadgil report by people who feared they would be displaced were among the loudest.