Getting down to business soon after taking over, Environment Minister M Veerappa Moily directed a review of a controversial report on Western Ghats which had earned his predecessor Jayanthi Natarajan the wrath of political parties and religious groups from Kerala.
Moily, who took charge as Environment Minister today, asked six Western Ghats range states-- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat to examine various recommendations of the High Level Working Group (HLWG) report prepared by a 10-member panel headed by K Kasturirangan.
The minister has assured Kerala Chief Minister Oommen Chandy and Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan, who met him to complain against the report, that he would go ahead with the implementations only after receiving suggestions from the affected states.
"The suggestions/objections of these states will be considered and appropriate decisions on the recommendations of the said report will be taken after due consideration of these suggestions/objections," the Ministry said in a statement here.
During their meeting, both Chandy and Chavan apprised Moily about various issues pertaining to their states, including the impact of the implementation of the report of the HLWG.
"After having considered the concerns raised by them the Minister of Environment and Forests has agreed to address letters to the Chief Ministers of all the six states which are likely to be affected by the implementation of the said report requesting them to examine various recommendations of the report and send their suggestions/objections to the Ministry in a time bound manner," the Ministry said.
The Ministry's fresh decision came in the wake of protests in Kerala by political parties and religious groups against the implementation of the report.
Stung by the protests in Congress-ruled states like Kerala and Maharashtra, Natarajan, before quitting the Ministry two days ago, had clarified that there was no ban on agriculture and plantations activities along the Western Ghats.
The Kasturirangan panel had identified 37 per cent of natural landscape of Western Ghats as Ecologically Sensitive Area. It is only 60,000 sq km ecologically sensitive area of Western Ghats covering an area of 180,000 square km.