A Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA) will be set up under the Environment Protection Act, said Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh, addressing a press conference at Kotagiri on Thursday.

Announcing that it would be notified shortly, he said within three months the proposed body would identify places to be declared as ‘no development areas’ in 51 districts of six States which form part of the Western Ghats.

It would also identify areas where development had to be regulated and where development could take place without restrictions.

Claiming that nine such authorities had been set up under the Environment Protection Act in various parts of the country, he disagreed with a suggestion that they were toothless.

Under grave threat

Conceding that the Western Ghats was under grave threat, he said he was committed to protecting it, referring to projects such as the Athirapally power project in Kerala, which had been shelved on environmental grounds. The situation in Goa had attained crisis proportions.

Pointing out that the Western Ghats was a continuous eco-system, he said a parliamentary forum on the Western Ghats would be brought into being. Mr.Ramesh said a meeting of MPs concerned would be convened soon.

Earlier, he launched a forum called the Nilgiris Natural History Society, promoted by the Keystone Foundation at Kotagiri.

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