NEW DELHI: The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on Monday told the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that it was awaiting six Western Ghats states to demarcate the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) by physical verification and they might propose exclusion or inclusion of certain areas in it.
The MoEF also said any further decision would be taken only after examining the reports submitted by all the states.
In an affidavit that MoEF Secretary Ashok Lavasa filed before the NGT, the ministry said the state governments which fall in the Western Ghats region might after undertaking demarcation of ESA by physical verification propose exclusion/inclusion of certain areas from/in the ESA as stated in the draft notification.
“Such proposals will be examined by the MoEF before taking a view on further appropriate action, including issuing a fresh draft notification, if required, to seek fresh objections from the public on the proposals received from the state governments,” it said.
Calling it the “most messy ministry”, the NGT had on September 7, asked the MoEF to file a fresh affidavit on Western Ghats Reports by taking a definite stand before the green court proceeds further in the matter.
The ministry had on August 27 accepted the Kasturirangan Panel report and said it was not processing the Gadgil Report any further.
The Gadgil Report had faced opposition from the states, especially Kerala, for recommending that almost three-fourth (1,64,280 hectare) of the hills, including cultivated lands, plantations and large habitations, be turned into a restricted development zone as ecological sensitive zone (ESZ). Kasturirangan Panel was set up to study the Gadgil Committee report, which in April last suggested that the 37 per cent of the area (60,000 hectare) be declared ecologically sensitive and called for restricting commercial activities like mining, thermal power plants, polluting industries and large housing plans there. The UPA Government had in October 2013 issued a notification, giving in-principle approval to implement the Kasturirangan Committee report. The ministry had also issued a notification in March, declaring ESA in the Western Ghats based on Kasturirangan report.