Government urged to fix Western Ghats boundary

Government urged to fix Western Ghats boundary

Environmental activists and scientists have demanded the government to fix boundary of the western ghats identified by the forest department two years ago.

Addressing a press conference on Saturday in Bangalore, Ananth Hegde Ashisara, former chairman of the Western Ghats Task Force and President of Vrukshalaksha Andolana said the government had withheld the demarcation of the boundary carried out hobli-wise in 2011 on the grounds that there were some discrepancies.

But later, the forest department with the help of the Western Ghats Task Force had prepared scientific maps. The assistance of French Institute of Pondicherry, Isro and IISc were taken.

The reports of committees headed by scientists Madhav Gadgil and Kasturi Rangan were also studied before the demarcation. The forest department six months ago prepared its final report. However, the government has not yet issued an order to give effect to this, Hegde said.

The State government, without identifying the boundary, cannot implement the any new norms related to forests. It would be impossible to implement the Kasturi Rangan report. The government has stated before the High Court that it would not give permission for construction of mini hydel power units in the Ghats. With no boundary fixed, the court order is being violated.

Hegde said similar problem is being faced by the mining sector too. For example, many companies are seeking mining permission in Hogre Kanu forest and Kodachadri. But the government departments are not sure whether these places belong to the  Western Ghats region.

He said the government, while issuing the order on boundary, must ensure that farmers and tribals are not displaced.

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