Forest ministry banishes construction and excavation in Western Ghats

In a big triumph to the attempts to defend UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF) has notified 56,825 sq km of the Western Ghats spread along a 15,000km in six states as ecologically sensitive area (ESA).

The draft notice, if it receives final authorization, will banish actions comprising constructions, excavation, production, and sand excavation.

The final notification will be forwarded after 60 days following the compliance of objections or proposals. The six states comprising Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Gujarat are expected to search for changes to the notice.

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Thus far Karnataka has clarified that it won't receive the notice as, “It will have an adverse effect on the state’s economy.”

Goa, where around 1,461 sq km of the Western Ghats zone comprising 99 villages has previous been distinguished as ESA is also expected to seek to free at least a few zones from the concluding draft.

Previously, after the recent Kerala rains, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had restrained six states from giving ecological authorization for actions, which could damage eco-sensitive zones.

In the year 2011, a group led by environmentalist Madhav Gadgil had suggested 64% of the part come under ESA, however, it was dropped after oppositions from different states.

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Another expert committee, in 2013 headed by former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangan had suggested that 37 percent (60,000 hectares) of the Western Ghats should be declared as ESA. This too was not implemented.

A representative in the Karnataka Forest Ministry gave confirmation about the developments and claimed that the section could not influence the choice of the state administration.

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"The decision is not new. Earlier, a Cabinet sub-committee had taken the decision before the current government was in place. This will only encourage mining and other red category industrial activities. There are ministers who have mining interests. Otherwise, if it becomes an ESA, there won't be any activity, not even building of roads," the functionary told media people on condition of anonymity.

by Admin | Wed, Oct 17 - 03:42 PM

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