Protection of Western Ghats: Deadline to finalise draft notification extended

Special Correspondent

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Western Ghats | Photo: Vivek T

New Delhi: The union government has extended the deadline to finalise draft notification on ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) of the Western Ghats for the fourth time. The extension is for one year and hence earmarking ESA in six states including Kerala will take more time.

The draft notification rolled out on the basis of Gadgil report and the subsequent Dr K Kasturirangan Committee was notified in the year 2013. The third extension of the draft notification became void in June 30 and the latest extension comes at this juncture. Meanwhile, the existing curbs in the regions as per the draft notification will continue.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change maintains that the concerns and objections of the states will be evaluated and then only the final notification issued. The committee concerned chaired by the ministry’s former director general Sanjay Kumar will be given time till next July.

The states are batting that human settlements which comes under ESA should be avoided. The union government is of the stance that issues can be resolved by classifying regions into core area (with stringent curbs) and non-core area (with not so stringent curbs).

According to the union government, the authority over non-core area can be transferred to the states and all human and commercial activities except those classified under red category of activities can be permitted. Kerala was part of the deliberation over this provision. Kerala has urged the union government that the only 8656.46 square kilometre stretch should be earmarked as ESA.

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