Wednesday, 23 January, 2019

NGT bars changes to green zones in Western Ghats

Says changes may seriously affect environment

31st August 2018, 07:32 Hrs

the goan I network

PANAJI

The National Green Tribunal has directed that there be no changes made to the eco-sensitive zones of the Western Ghats as notified by the Ministry of Environment and Forests based on the recommendations of the Kasturirangan Committee report.   

“Any alteration in the draft notification dated 27.02.2017 may seriously affect the environment and especially in view of recent incidents in Kerala, we direct that no changes be made to reduce the area of Eco-Sensitive Zone in terms of notification dated 27.02.2017, without the same being considered by this Tribunal,” the Principal Bench of the National Green Tribunal in Delhi said while hearing a petition filed by the Goa Foundation.   

The MoEF had first constituted a committee under Prof Madhav Gadgil sought which submitted a report. However, rather than implement the report of the Western Ghat Ecology Expert Panel WGEEP (called Dr Gadgil Report), the MoEF appointed High Level Working Group (HLWG) (Dr K Kasturirangan Committee).   

The Gadgil committee proposed much larger areas for being included in the eco-sensitive zone while Kasturirangan committee reduced the same.   

The report of the Committee was accepted by the MoEF in principle and draft notification was issued.   

While the MoEF has accepted the second report, objections raised by the States to the MoEF’s draft notification have led to delay to issuing the final notification.   

The NGT felt that the delay “may not be conducive to the protection of the eco-sensitive areas. “The matter must be finalized at the earliest,” the NGT said.   

The States of Goa and Gujarat are yet to make their final submissions before the MoEF but while the Kasturirangan committee said that 99 villages of Goa are in the category of ESZ -- three talukas Sattari (56), Sanguem (38) and Canacona (five) as eco-sensitive the State Government’s committee has said that they want the number to be closer to 50.