Petition to protect “hotspots of biodiversity” in ecologically sensitive Western Ghats – Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu

The Tribunal also issued notices to the state governments of Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu seeking their replies on the plea for implementation of the report by Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) on the protection and preservation of Western Ghats.

The plea by two NGOs, Goa Foundation and Peaceful Society, told the Tribunal that the MoEF had set up the WGEEP in March 2010, given the environmental sensitivity and ecological significance of the region.

The WGEEP in its report to MoEF dated August 31, 2011 has designated the entire Western Ghats as an Ecologically Sensitive Area and categorised the whole region in three classes according to their ecological sensitivities.

The NGOs sought to restrain the authorities from granting fresh nods to projects in regions in the first two categories which include 97 talukas in 44 districts of six states.

The WGEEP had in its report recommended that no mining should be allowed in the Western Ghats in Goa. […]

The NGOs have sought an interim order seeking directions that no fresh clearances be granted to projects in the two categories. […]

Terming the Western Ghats as “hotspots of biodiversity”, the petition stated that the region harbours the largest global populations of the Asian Elephant and besides other mammals such as tiger.

“By and large the Western Ghats have been subjected to a rapid erosion of natural capital with the building up of man-made capital, regrettably imposing excessive, unnecessary environmental damage in the process, accompanied by a degradation of social capital as well,” the petition said.

Source: “Green Tribunal seeks MoEF’s response on plea on Western Ghats”, The Hindu, New Delhi, May 31, 2012
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