Kerala to Set up Committee to Respond to Centre on Western Ghats Report
Kerala on 21 October 2013 decided to set up a Committee to Respond to Centre on Western Ghats Report.
The Kerala State Government on 21 October 2013 decided to form an expert committee to prepare the State's response on the recommendations of the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturi Rangan panels on protecting biodiversity in the Western Ghats. Western Ghats are spread over six states, including Kerala.
Setting up of the expert panel was announced by Chief Minister Oommen Chandy after an all-party meeting in Thiruvananthapuram on 21 October 2013.
Union Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) on 18 October 2013 approved a proposal for Western Ghats development prepared by K Kasturirangan-led panel. The Union Forest and Environment Ministry (MoEF) had also sought the State's response on the matter.
Kasturirangan Panel Report
Kasturirangan Panel has recommended a ban on development activities in 60000 sq km ecologically sensitive area spread over six states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The WGEEP Report
The WGEEP (Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel) led by Madhav Gadgil designated entire Western Ghats as an Ecologically Sensitive Area. The panel in its report classified the 142 taluks in the Western Ghats boundary into Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ) 1, 2 and 3.
The report further recommended that no new dams should be allowed in Ecologically Sensitive Zone 1. The report added that Both the Gundia of Karnataka and Athirappilly of Kerala hydel projects should be denied environmental clearance because these sites fall in Ecologically Sensitive Zone 1.
Kerala's consistent position has been that ecologically sensitive areas identified in the reports are densely populated. The mainstream parties in Kerala have expressed concern over difficulties to be faced by the farmers, if the report is implemented. Hilly districts of Idukki and Wayanad have hundreds of small and marginal farmers living there for generations.
The Western Ghats, also known as the Sahyadri Hills, a mountainous ridge running parallel to the west coast of India. The Western Ghats was declared as an ecological hotspot in 1988. Western ghats are spread over six states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.