Ecologically sensitive areas in Western Ghats to be identified: Rai

Minister for Forest, Ecology and Environment B Ramanatha Rai said on Friday that the field-level verification to identify Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) in the Western Ghats will be completed in the next two months.

The minister added that the verification report will first be submitted to the Cabinet sub-committee, before it is submitted to the Centre.

The identification is being carried out following a draft notification issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to identify ESA spread across 20,668 sq km in 11 districts of the Western Ghats range.

Speaking at a book release function here, Rai said that they will not allow any kind of commercial activity in these areas. When questioned about a resort which has reportedly received clearance from the forest department to be set up in the buffer zone outside the Bandipur forest, Rai said that they have not given any clearance for resorts and if there are any existing ones, they will immediately be removed.

AS Sadashivaiah, retired Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer, said that the good work done by forest officials in the State has not been highlighted.“Many officers going on field visits should make it a habit to write their experiences so that they can share it with the future IFS officers,” he added.

About curbing instances of forest fire in wildlife sanctuaries, Sadashivaiah said that despite objections raised by conservationists, dead wood lying inside forests must be removed as it becomes the fuel for forest fire.

Meanwhile, Ramanath Rai assured the forest department that a publicity officer will be appointed shortly to highlight the work of the department.

'Art of Indian Wildlife Management', written by former IFS officer BMT Rajeev was released on the occasion. The book is about the experiences of IFS officers, who have gone on several field visits.

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