Declare as unconstitutional Western Ghats ESA draft notification, NGO urges Supreme Court

The Western Ghats traverse the States of Kerala, Tamil Nadu Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra and Goa.   | Photo Credit: The Hindu

A Kerala-based NGO for farmers moved the Supreme Court on Sunday to declare unconstitutional a draft notification of the Centre demarcating 56,825 sq km spread across six States as ‘Western Ghats Ecologically Sensitive Area’.


Karshaka Shabdam (Voice of Farmers) said the ambit of the draft notification of October 3, 2018 covered Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.


The petition has also sought a direction to the government to not implement the Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan committees’ reports on the conservation of Western Ghats and demarcation of ‘no-go’ zones.


The petition, represented by advocate Suvidutt M.S., said the draft notification would affect 22 lakh people and cripple the economy of Kerala.


The draft notification to declare “123 agricultural villages in Kerala as ecologically sensitive area (ESA) villages and the recommendations based on Kasturirangan report (and earlier Gadgil report) on land use, farming practices, animal husbandry, forestry, industries, infrastructure development, power generation, transport, tourism, etc, would convert the semi-urban villages in the region into forests with no facilities and roads,” the petition said.


The plea said the Centre had wrongly branded people who had been residing in the Western Ghats area, following government norms on agricultural practices, as the “destroyers of the biodiversity and agents of ecological damage.”


The 123 villages are located in 10 parliamentary constituencies in Kerala. They form the backbone of the cultivation of rubber, coffee, black pepper, cardamom, etc.


The petition said of the 50 lakh people who would be affected across the six States, 22 lakh reside in Kerala alone.


“Twenty-two lakh are in the 123 villages of Kerala alone with a population density of 800 individuals/sq km, and the remaining 28 lakh are in 4,033 villages of remaining five States,” the petition said.


It said the villages in developed Kerala were not tribal hamlets as in other States.


“It is absolutely necessary to treat them with a different measuring rod,” Karshaka Shabdam argued.


The petition said ESA in Kerala should be restricted to reserved forests, protected area and World Heritage sites.

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Printable version | Oct 25, 2021 4:12:19 AM |

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