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Environment ministry seeks views of states in Western Ghats region

NEW DELHI: Environment ministry will consider views of chief ministers of all states in the Western Ghats region before issuing the draft notification for declaring the the mountain chain as an ecologically sensitive area, the Rajya Sabhawas informed on Thursday.

Environment minister Veerappa Moily also said that the ministry has not issued any draft notification for declaration of the area identified by the High Level Working Group (HLWG) as Ecologically Sensitive under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

In his written replies to various questions on the issue, Moily, however, said that the ministry, which accorded "in principle" acceptance of the HLWG report prepared by a panel under the charimanship of K Kasturirangan, has issued directions under Section 5 of the Environment (Protection) Act 1986 "with a view to providing immediate protection to Western Ghats and maintain environmental integrity".

"Considering the seriousness of the matter, the ministry has written on January 16, 2014 to the Chief Ministers of all six states in the Western Ghats region seeking their views on the HLWG recommendations, especially on concerns which might not have been addressed in the Office Memorandum of the Ministry dated December 20, 2013.

"Their views have been sought within one month so that the ministry may consider the same before issuing the draft notification for declaring the 
ecologically sensitive area in the Western Ghats," Moily said.

He also said that it has been clarified in the Office Memorandum that the boundary of the Ecologically Sensitive Area as identified by the HLWG as also the regulatory regime would be finalized after the draft notification to the effect is placed in the public domain for comments/views of stakeholders including State Governments.

The Western Ghats straddle the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

The Times of India (06-02-2014)