Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) accepted the recommendations of the Kerala Government regarding Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) boundaries on 4 March 2014.
The Kerala government recommended to keep agricultural, plantations and habitations out of ecologically sensitive areas (ESAs) identified by the High-Level Working Group (HLWG) on the conservation of the Western Ghats.
It has also been decided that the MoEF will consider recommendations of the other States in Western Ghats region based on similar on-ground exercise. If such, proposals are forwarded to the MoEF within 60 days of issuance of the draft Notification.
Union Ministry of Environment and Forest approved the Kasturirangan Panel Report on Western Ghats on 18 October 2013. According to the report, nearly 37 percent of the total area defined as the boundary of the Western Ghats is ecologically sensitive. The Panel recommended a ban on development activities in 60000 sq km ecologically sensitive area ESA) spread over six states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu. This imposed ban was protested by activities like agriculture and day to day activities.
Then the Environment Ministry issued an order on 20 December 2014, following the in principle acceptance of the Ksatrurirangan committee report. The order clarifies it does not impact the continued occupation of land in possession of the local people or affect their day to day activities or normal livelihood.
The Kerala State Government had constituted an expert committee to study the impact of HLWG recommendations and to assess ground level information on 21 October 2013. The State Government also set up Panchayat level Committees in the villages falling within ESA to undertake field verification and interaction with the stakeholders.
Based on the recommendations of the Expert Committee report, the Kerala State Government suggested certain changes in the demarcations and boundaries of ESAs within the state.
MoEF considered the recommendations of the Kerala Government regarding ESA boundaries and the draft Notification is being issued by the MoEF incorporating the said modifications.
When: 4 March 2014