Parliamentary Panel Report on Western Ghats

The Western Ghats has an exceptionally high level of biological diversity and endemism and is recognized as one of the world’s eight ‘hottest hotspots’ of biological diversity. The Western Ghats represents geomorphic features of immense importance with unique biophysical and ecological processes.
The Rajya Sabha Committee on Government Assurances has examined issues related to the categorisation of the Western Ghats as ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) as per the recommendations of two committees led by Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan.

Observations of the Committee

The Rajya Sabha Committee on Government Assurances has made the following observations:

  • The ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) in the Western Ghats could not be earmarked due to State governments’ ‘insensitivity’.
  • The recent floods in Kerala and parts of Karnataka must serve as an alarm bells for the governments in the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which have failed to mark ESA in the Western Ghats.
  • Despite three draft notifications issued over four years for earmarking ESA, the State governments could not be brought on board for action.
  • As a result over 56,000 square km of ESA could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones for polluting activities and deforestation. Hence large-scale deforestation, mining, and construction are continuing unabated, hurting the ecology of the Western Ghats.
  • Insensitivity towards the ecology of the Western Ghats has made the Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka vulnerable to floods and landslides.
  • The committee recommends that implementation of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report is only possible with the active support of the local population.

The parliamentary panel has urged the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to constitute a committee to address the issues and grievances of State governments and local people.

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