DRAFT NOTIFICATION ON WESTERN GHATS
Why in news?
The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has reissued the draft notification of the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) in Western Ghats, of which 20,668 sq. km is in Karnataka.
- The Centre has notified 46,832 sq. km spread across Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu while leaving out Kerala in the draft notification which has been rejected multiple times by the States concerned.
- Kerala has undertaken the exercise by physical verification of the ESA recommended by the State and is spread over nearly 9,993.7 sq. km compared to 13,108 sq. km which was suggested by a high-level working group, according to the MoEF&CC.
- ‘’Against 33% of forest cover, the State has less than 20% at present and it was imperative to save Western Ghats, which is the source of all our rivers. The ravages of flood and landslips being witnessed in the State should serve as a warning of the negative fallout of environmental destruction.
- The earlier notifications lapsed forcing the MoEF&CC to reissue the same and include restrictions such as a complete ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining in the ESA.
What does the new draft say?
- The latest draft notification has identified 1,572 villages across 10 districts in the State as covered by ESA regulations. But the notification itself introduces a footnote stating that the ‘’actual area will be finalised based on the recommendations of the State, views of stakeholders and ESZ expert committee’’.
- The existing mines would be phased out within five years from the date of issue of final notification.
- Similarly, no new thermal power projects or expansion of the existing plants, new townships or red category industries shall be allowed within the ESA.
This apart, there will be regulation of certain category of industries and a Decision Support and Monitoring Centre for Western Ghats shall be established by the Ministry in collaboration with the six State governments, as per the draft notification.