KOZHIKODE: The issuing of the final notification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on the report of the High Level Working Group (HLWG) on Western Ghats, headed by K Kasturirangan, is set for a lengthy delay. Other than Kerala, no Western Ghats states - Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Gujarat, Goa and Maharashtra - have submitted their recommendations to the ministry on the matter so far.
Meanwhile, the State government’s demand to issue a final notification exclusively for Kerala also suffered a major setback with the government yet to submit a comprehensive cadastral mapping report to the MoEF, detailing the Ecological Sensitive Areas (ESAs), inhabited regions, plantations, farmlands etc. in the state based on the Oommen V Oommen expert committee report. According to sources, the exercise of demarcating the ESAs and physical verification of the areas, undertaken by the Oommen V Oommen committee constituted by the State government to study the impact of the HLWG report in Kerala, has turned out to be a farce.
“Owing to large-scale anomalies in the report of the three-member committee headed by Oommen V Oommen, the entire process has to be done again. The MoEF has written to the State government at least 12 times seeking clarifications,” said a source. However, as per the government’s directive, the Kerala State Remote Sensing and Environment Centre has now completed the preparation of a detailed cadastral mapping report. It has details of the areas to be protected as ESAs, agriculture land, populated areas, the number of quarries operating in the region and encroachments among other things, which were largely been omitted in the previous report. “It has already been submitted to the Environment Department and is under its consideration,” the sources added.
An official with the Environment Department confirmed that the report had been received, but noted that they were re-examining it. “We are now re-examining the report. As it is a time-consuming process, there will be some delay in submitting the final report to the MoEF,” the official added. The MoEF, while issuing the draft notification in last March, noted that the recommendations of the other Western Ghats states would be considered, if they undertook the exercise of demarcating the ESAs by physical verification and submitted the proposal to the MoEF, as done by Kerala, in 60 days.