The Goa government has rejected the report of a review committee on private forest lands claiming that it contains several "lacunae". The National Green Tribunal (NGT) had ordered the state government to conduct a scientific exercise to identify private forest lands in the coastal state.
Forest Minister Vijai Sardesai told reporters in Margao Saturday that the report demarcating private forest areas stands rejected. The review committee had been set up to go through a report prepared by Sawant and Karapurkar committees in the year 1997.
Sardesai said Chief Minister Pramod Sawant has approved the formation of a fresh committee. Sardesai, also a Deputy Chief Minister, said public consultation was not held during the formation of the committees and subsequent exercises.
He also objected to fixing a five percent sampling intensity for field verification. The minister said that it was incorrect to be assumptive with regard to demarcation of land as forest and that people should be consulted before finalizing the report.
Sources close to Sardesai said that he had identified lacunae in the methodologies adopted to achieve the Terms of Reference (ToR) with respect to the Sawant and Karapurkar Committees. Sardesai said that many times, a landowner was not even consulted or informed before his assets get marked as a private forest depending on a survey.
"It is unjust to have not given landowners a public hearing or an explanation on whether and how their lands fulfill the required criteria before having demarcated them as private forest," he said. The minister further said that the stratified random sampling method adopted for the survey was not acceptable as the actual position should be known before marking the forest.
He said the private forest land report should not meet the fate of Coastal Zone Management Plan (CZMP), which was prepared by Chennai-based National Centre for Sustainable Coastal Management.
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