Centre reissues draft notification on Western Ghats

Centre reissues draft notification on Western Ghats

The Environment Ministry has for the third time notified the proposed ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) in the Western Ghats, despite Tamil Nadu’s continued opposition to the proposal.

The draft notification was reissued on February 27 as the previous notification, issued on September 4, 2015, is set to expire within a month. The first draft notification was issued in 2014.

According to the draft notification, 56,825 sqkm area in the Ghats, including 20,668 sqkm in Karnataka, would be declared as an ESA, where restrictions would be imposed on setting up industries and big construction projects.

As much as 9,993.7 sqkm of the demarcated ESA zone belongs to Kerala, 449 sqkm is in Gujarat, 17,340 sqkm in Maharashtra, 1,461 sqkm in Goa and 6,914 sqkm in Tamil Nadu.

However, the notified area in the draft is at least 3,000 sqkm less than the area identified by the expert group, headed by former Isro chairman K Kasturirangan. Most of the missing area is in Kerala.

No breakthrough

Some lawmakers from Kerala had met Environment Minister Anil Dave last week, and he had promised to settle the matter once the draft notification was reissued.

However, there are barely any visible signs of a breakthrough, as Tamil Nadu continues to oppose a survey to validate the number of villages falling under the ESA zone.

Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka and Kerala had submitted their own ground survey, reasoning their objections, if any, on the identification of villages under the ESA. Tamil Nadu is the only state which is yet to submit its report.

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