New Delhi: Environment Ministry has given approval to a report on Western Ghats prepared by K Kasturirangan-led panel which has recommended prohibition on development activities in 60,000 sq km ecologically sensitive area spread over six states.
The 10-member high-level working group (HLWG), headed by Kasturirangan, was constituted to examine the Western Ghats ecology expert panel report (WGEEP) prepared under the leadership of eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil.
Kasturirangan-panel had moved far away from the Gadgil committee report which was considered by UNESCO's the World Heritage Committee, before deciding to inscribe 39 serial sites of the Western Ghats on the World Heritage List.
The Ministry's decision to approve Kasturirangan-panel report is virtual rejection of the the Gadgil Committee report that had recommended a blanket approach consisting of guidelines for sector-wise activities, which would be permitted in the ecologically sensitive zones.
The Kasturirangan panel had submitted its report to the Ministry on April 15, this year and it was put in public domain and also disseminated to all stakeholders including the six Western Ghats states including Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu for feedback and comments.
"...On completion of a transparent process, MoEF has accepted in principle the HLWG report and definition of Western Ghats as demarcated by HLWG," a Ministry document said.
The Ministry, however, said the process for declaration of Ecologically Sensitive Area in Western Ghats as recommended by Kasturirangan-panel would take some time.
According to the report, roughly 37 per cent of the total area defined as the boundary of the Western Ghats is ecologically sensitive.
Over this area of some 60,000 sq km, spread over the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the working group has recommended a prohibitory regime on those activities with maximum interventionist and destructive impact on the environment.