Mumbai States

Parliamentary committee irked by States’ insensitivity to Western Ghats

western ghats in Karnataka.  

Over 56,000 square kilometres of ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) in the Western Ghats could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones due to State governments’ ‘insensitivity’, a parliamentary committee has said. The panel has urged the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to constitute a committee to address the issues and grievances of local people.

The recent monsoon floods in Kerala and parts of Karnataka should serve as alarm bells for the administrations in the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which have failed to mark ESA in the Western Ghats, the Committee on Government Assurances in the Rajya Sabha has said.

The panel, which keeps track of assurances given by ministers on the floor of the Upper House, presented its latest report on Monday. The panel had examined issues regarding the categorisation of the Western Ghats as ESA as per the recommendations of two committees led by Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan.

The report said, “The committee has observed that despite three draft notifications issued over four years for earmarking ESA, the six States could not be brought on board for action. Resultantly, over 56,000 square km of ESA could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones for polluting activities and deforestation, and large-scale deforestation, mining, and construction are continuing unabated, hurting the ecology of the Western Ghats.”

“Insensitivity towards ecology of the Western Ghats is making the six States vulnerable to floods and landslides,” the report said.

“The committee is of the view that implementation of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report is only possible with active support of local population. It also requires consultation with the State government at micro level to achieve the objectives of saving the Western Ghats,” the report said.

The panel examined 62 assurances during its deliberations with various State governments and other organisations, and had visited Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, before preparing its report.

The article has been edited to correct an error.

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Printable version | Feb 26, 2021 9:22:50 AM |

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