The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) today informed the National Green tribunal that state governments of the Western Ghats region may propose exclusion or inclusion of certain areas in Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) after undertaking demarcation by physical verification.
In an affidavit filed by Ashok Lavasa, Secretary of MoEF before a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, the Ministry said that such proposals would be scrutinised before taking any action. The state governments of the Western Ghats region may after undertaking demarcation of ESA by physical verification, propose the exclusion/inclusion of certain areas from/in the ESA as stated in the draft notification.
Such proposals of the state governments received after physical verification, would be examined by MoEF before taking a view on further appropriate action including issuing a fresh draft notification, if required, to seek fresh objections from the public on the proposals received from the state governments of Western Ghats region, the affidavit said.
The bench directed the counsel appearing for MoEF to seek instructions and listed the matter for hearing on September 24. The Tribunal had, earlier, pulled up the Ministry of Environment and Forests for changing its stand on the issue of protection of ecologically sensitive Western Ghats and called it as the most messy ministry.
The Environment Ministry, which had junked the report on Western Ghats by Madhav Gadgil, had told the tribunal that it casts doubt on both the reports (Gadgil and K Kasturirangan) and wants to do physical demarcation by conducting a survey. Western Ghats is a geological landform on the fringe of the west coast of India which extends over a distance of approximately 1500 km and traverses through six states viz Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The tribunal was hearing a plea by NGOs Goa Foundation and Peaceful Society, which had sought to restrain the authorities from granting fresh nods to projects in the Western Ghats region. On August 27, in an affidavit filed before the NGT, MoEF had informed that it was examining the recommendations of Kasturiranganled panel and would not process the Gadgil report for further action.
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