The fresh draft notification on demarcation of Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs) in the Western Ghats issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change on September 4 was a technical formality aimed at avoiding the lapse of the earlier notification that was valid only till September 9, officials in the State government feel.
The extent of ESAs and other provisions mentioned in the earlier notification issued on March 10, 2014 remains unchanged in the revised notification, which is yet to be posted on the website of the Ministry.
An official press note quoting Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar recently said the revised notification, superseding the earlier one, was aimed at addressing the apprehensions and concerns of stakeholders and State governments over the demarcation of ESAs.
It said the provisions of the original draft remained unchanged, pending the finalisation of proposals from State governments after physical verification of ESAs.
On September 4, the same day on which the new draft notification was issued, a delegation from Kerala, led by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy, had met Mr. Javadekar and handed over documents to clarify the exclusion of human settlements, farmlands, and plantations from the ESAs in the State.
Environment Minister Thiruvanchoor Radhakrishnan, who was part of the delegation, had gone on record to state that the Union Ministry had accepted Kerala’s stand and agreed to revise the extent of ESAs in Kerala to 9,839 sq.km. In the earlier draft notification, the extent was 9,993 sq.km.
“The fact that the ESA extent has not been revised indicates that the new notification was issued merely to prevent the original one from lapsing,” says an official.
The press note issued by the Ministry said the demarcation of ESAs would not affect the lives of about 50 million people living in the Western Ghats region covering six states -- Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala, Karnataka, and state of Tamil Nadu.
Their agriculture and plantation as well as their normal businesses and other activities would not be adversely affected.