A National Green Tribunal (NGT) bench, headed by chairperson justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, has directed the Union Environment Ministry to file a report on the finalisation of eco-sensitive zone in the Western Ghats, within a month.
“An undertaking was also noted in the order of this tribunal dated September 8, 2017 that final notification will be issued as expeditiously as possible and in any case within 12 months. In view of above, let a report be furnished by the Ministry of Environment and Forests, about the status of compliance of the above orders within one month, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org,” the bench said.
The tribunal was hearing a plea, alleging that notification of eco-sensitive zones in the Western Ghats has not been finalised, despite the NGT’s direction to complete the exercise within six months.
NGT restrains six states from granting environment clearance, for activities in Western Ghats
While asking the Environment Ministry to finalise the draft notification of the Western Ghats within six months, the NGT has extended the restriction on grant of environmental clearance, to activities impacting eco-sensitive areas
September 5, 2018: Noting that the ecology of the Western Ghats was under serious stress, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) restrained six states falling in the region, from giving environmental clearance to activities, which may adversely affect the eco-sensitive areas. The green panel allowed the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to republish the draft notification of the Western Ghats that lapsed on August 26 and asked it to finalise the matter within six months, without alterations to the eco-sensitive zone, in terms of the notification dated February 27, 2017.
A bench headed by NGT chairperson justice Adarsh Kumar Goel, slammed the states for the delay in filing objections with regard to the notification and said, “Delay on account of objections of states, may not be conducive to the protection of the eco-sensitive areas.” The tribunal said the Western Ghats region is one of the richest biodiversity areas, which needs to be conserved.
“In view of the fact that any alteration in the draft notification dated February 27, 2017, may seriously affect the environment and especially 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. As already directed, vide order dated September 25, 2014, no environmental clearance be granted and no activity adversely impacting eco-sensitive areas be permitted in the area covered by draft notification dated, till the matter is finalised,” the bench said.
The order came after the MoEF, in its affidavit, told the bench that the earlier notification was republished on February 27, 2017 and was communicated to the states of the Western Ghats region, for their views. It said Karnataka raised objections, seeking review of the prohibitory and regulatory regime recommended for eco-sensitive areas in Western Ghats, while Goa and Gujarat had not sent their views. The ministry said the matter was delayed, due to lack of response from some states and republication of the draft notification had become necessary.
The draft notification, issued by the MoEF, had identified area of 56,825 sq kms, spread across six states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, as Ecologically Sensitive Areas.
Following protests by various groups and political parties against its recommendations, the government constituted the K Kasturirangan committee, to examine the WGEEP report. Instead of the total area of Western Ghats, only 37 per cent (i.e., 60,000 sq kms) of the total area be brought under ESA, under the Kasturirangan report.