NEW DELHI: As the June 30 deadline to all six Western Ghat states to submit reports on physical demarcation of Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs) ended on Tuesday, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) may now take decision statewise, with Kerala wanting an early order on the issue.
Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said with the reports still being awaited from some states, the ministry will hold a review meeting later this week and take a final call.
“We can give decision statewise keeping in mind the ground truthing report, science and sustainable development,” Javadekar told reporters.
The MoEF had set April 15 deadline for states to submit the ESAs, but did not hear from any of them and then it extended the deadline to June 15 and then to June 30. The move comes after all states, except Kerala, failed to send the demarcation despite repeated reminders.
In February, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had restricted the MoEF from granting environmental clearance or permitting activities which would have an adverse impact on the eco-sensitive areas asking it to expeditiously demarcate ESAs in Gujarat, Goa, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Kerala. While Kerala has submitted the report, rest five states are yet to submit it.
The restriction by court means that projects in five categories – mining, quarrying, sand mining, thermal power plants, building and construction projects of 20,000 square metre area and above, township and area development projects with an area of 50 hectare and above or red category industries won’t get environmental clearance.
The UPA Government had in October 2013 issued a notification giving in-principle approval to implement Kasturirangan Committee Report.
The ministry has also issued a notification declaring ESA in the Western Ghats in March, 2014, based on Kasturirangan Report.
The panel was set up to study the Gadgil Committee Report on the Western Ghats which in its report on April 2013 suggested the 37 per cent of the area (60,000 hectares) be declared ecologically sensitive and called for restricting commercial activities like mining, thermal power plants, polluting industries and large housing plans.