Parliamentary panel flags neglect of Western Ghats

Over 56,000 km of ecologically sensitive areas in the Western Ghats could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones due to State governments’ ‘insensitivity’, a parliamentary panel has said.

It urged the Union Environment and Forests Ministry to constitute a committee to address the issues and grievances of the local people.

The recent catastrophic monsoon floods in Kerala and parts of Karnataka should serve as alarm bells for administrations in the six States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka that have failed to mark ecologically sensitive areas in the Western Ghats, the Committee on Government Assurances in the Rajya Sabha has stressed.

The Committee, which keeps track of assurances given by Ministers on the floor of the Upper House while replying to queries from parliamentarians, flagged these issues in its latest report presented on Monday.

The panel had examined issues regarding the categorisation of Western Ghats parts as Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs) as per the recommendations of two different committees led by Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan.

The committee examined 62 assurances during its deliberations with various State Governments and other organisations. It visited Pune, Mumbai, Chennai, and Bengaluru, before finalising its report.

“The Committee is of the view that implementation of recommendations of Kasturirangan report is only possible with active support of local population and requires intrinsic consultation with the State Government at micro level to achieve the desired objectives of saving the Western Ghats,” stressed its report which recommended that the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change constitute a Committee to address the issues and grievances of local people.

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