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Centre hesitates on Western Ghats issue (Relevant for GS Prelims and GS Mains Paper II, III)

 

Allegation against Central Government
The Environment Ministry has dithered, for the second time in three years, from bringing into force a law that will make about 56,825 sqkm of the ecologically-rich Western Ghats out of bounds for industrial development.
Earlier, the government issued a draft notification that specified how much land in various coastal States encompassing the Western Ghats would be earmarked as practically-inviolate.

What does new notification says?
The notification is open to public comments for 60 days. It allows the Centre to create an Ecological Sensitive Area (ESA) in the Western Ghats (WG), a 1,500 km, ecologically-rich strip along the west coast spanning Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The 2017 notification would not automatically become law after that period. On the contrary, it paved the way for fresh representation from States on how much area could be demarcated as the ESA.
Regions declared as the ESA will not be allowed to host mining and quarrying projects and building thermal power plants. Two committees have been set up on the issue in the past and gave the following recommendations.

1.Gadgil committee
Committee headed by ecologist Madhav Gadgil recommended in 2011 that all of the Western Ghats be declared as the ESA, with only limited development allowed in graded zones.

2. K. Kasturirangan committee
A committee headed by K. Kasturirangan, former ISRO chairman, recommended that only about 60,000 sq km or about 37% of the Western Ghats be declared as the ESA.
Earlier, government has rejected the Gadgil committee report and agreed to implement K. Kasturirangan committee report.

Reaction of states
States have forced the Centre to consistently delay imposing the ESA restrictions. Imposition of restrictions will curtail the powers of the state to permit projects for economic development in ecologically sensitive areas.



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