The November 13 order, passed by Jayanthi Natarajan when she was Environment Minister, imposed a ban on clearances for new mining and other polluting industries.

The Environment Ministry informed the National Green Tribunal on Thursday that a final decision on the implementation of the Kasturirangan Committee report on the Western Ghats would be taken in a month. It clarified that the ban on new projects in the 6,000-square kilometre zone would continue.

The Ministry said it had written to six Chief Ministers, asking for their views, and their reports were to come in by February 16. Once they were received, the Ministry would take four weeks to take a final call.

The Tribunal recorded in its order: “… Additional Solicitor-General… submits that the notification/directions issued under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, dated November 13, 2013, continue to be in force. The Ministry has not superseded the same.”

The November 13 order, passed by Jayanthi Natarajan when she was Environment Minister, imposed a ban on clearances for new mining and other polluting industries.

After taking over the reins of the Ministry, M. Veerappa Moily announced that he would consult the Chief Ministers before implementing the report, causing confusion over the status of the previous orders. Subsequently, the Kerala government passed an order permitting small mining in the State without prior environmental clearance.

These issues were raised by the petitioner, Goa Foundation, in an on-going case before the Tribunal.

In its orders, the Tribunal said: “It is submitted that the Environment Minister has written to the Chief Ministers [asking them] to submit their views in relation to identification of eco-sensitive region by February 16. The Ministry, on submission of such views, would take a final view. For this reason, time is prayed on behalf of the Union of India.”

The Tribunal asked Kerala to clarify whether its orders also pertained to mining within the Western Ghats zone.

It will hear the case again on March 24.