NGT Restrains States From Giving Green Clearance To Projects Along Western Ghats
A report by the United Nations in November last year said that the biodiversity in India's iconic Western Ghats was facing a threat from encroachment and conversion. The report had also put the hills in the "significant-concern" category in its new outlook in the conservation prospects of natural World Heritage sites.
The report said that the pressure from the human population in the Western Ghats region was greater than that faced by many protected areas around the world.
Now, keeping in mind the serious stress the Western Ghats are under, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has restrained six states falling in the region from giving any environmental clearance to activities that might impact this eco-sensitive area adversely.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has been asked to republish the draft notification of the Western Ghats that lapsed on August 26. The NGT has asked to finalise this draft in next six months without the alterations introduced in the notifications issued in February last year.
New alterations were introduced in the draft notification in February last year that had reduced the eco-sensitive area to 56,825 square kilometre spread across six states — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. However, now the NGT has maintained that “in view of recent incidents in Kerala, we direct that no changes be made to reduce the area of eco-sensitive zone in terms of notification, without the same being considered by this tribunal”.
The NGT also slammed the states for causing a delay in the filing of objections against the alterations.
Traditionally conserved by small populations of indigenous people leading sustainable lifestyles, this eco-sensitive area is witnessing a significant rise in population numbers and developmental pressure. Fifty million people are estimated to live in the Western Ghats, resulting in pressures which are orders of magnitude greater than many protected areas around the world. Evidence suggests that forest loss, encroachment and conversion continue to affect the property.
Older than the Himalayas, the Western Ghats, spread over Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala, represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes.
With inputs from Housing News