People from Udupi, Karnataka have urged the Union and State governments to reject the recommendations of the K. Kasturirangan Panel’s report on conservation of the Western Ghats.
Udupi is a city in the southwest Indian State of Karnataka.
- 35 villages in Udupi district in the Western Ghats come under the ambit of the report
- Report also proposed a buffer zone of 10 km from the boundary of Western Ghats, which would include another 38 villages.
- The people are against the report as it would hamper development in the villages.
- The Kasturirangan panel was set up to study the Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats.
- The Gadgil panel report had faced unanimous opposition from state governments for recommending that almost three-fourth of the hills, including plantations, cultivated lands and large habitations, be turned into a restricted development zone with an over-arching authority to regulate the region superseding the elected authorities’ role.
- Around 60,000 sq km of Western Ghats, spread across six states, should be turned into a no-go area for commercial activities like mining, thermal power plants, polluting industries and large housing plans.
- It has suggested that 90% of the natural forests left in the Western Ghats complex – adding upto 60,000 sq km and constituting 37% of the entire hilly belt — be conserved under the Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) provisions of the green law. The forest area falling within the ESA would also cover 4,156 villages across the six states. The panel has said, “The villages falling under ESA will be involved in decision making on the future projects. All projects will require prior-informed consent and no-objection from the gram sabha (village council) of the village.”
- The panel has recommended that there should be a complete ban on mining activity in this zone and current mining activities should be phased out within five years, or at the time of expiry of the mining lease.
- It has banned development of any township or construction over the size of 20,000 sq m in the ESA zone.
- It has not recommended a ban on hydroelectric projects in the zone, but put a regime of stricter clearances for dams and other projects.
- The report suggests doing away with the complete moratorium on industrial and mining activity in the two Maharashtra districts of Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri. It has suggested persisting with the ban only on the area of the two districts falling within the ESA and a strict regulation in the rest.
- The report has steered clear from demanding a strict ecological control over the Western Ghat complex requiring changes and regulations on agricultural practices the way Gadgil committee report had suggested.
- Studied biology at University of Pune and Mumbai before a Ph.D. in the area of mathematical ecology at Harvard University.
- Padmashri and Padma Bhushan
- 6 books,
- “This Fissured (तडा ) Land”
- “Ecology and Equity”,
- “Diversity : The cornerstone of life” ,
- “Nurturing Biodiversity: An Indian Agenda”
- “Ecological Journeys”,
- “People’s Biodiversity Registers: A Methodology Manual”.
- He worked on the committee that drafted India’s Biological Diversity Act 2002
- chairman of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP)
- Awarded the National Environmental Fellowship
- Member of the Science Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India from 1986–90.
- He is removed from the Sonia Gandhi led National Advisory Council.
- Awarded the 2015 Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement
Given the environmental sensitivity and ecological significance of the Western Ghats region and the complex interstate nature of its geography, The Ministry of Environment & Forests constituted a Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel.
The Terms of Reference of the Committee are as under:
- To assess the current status of ecology of the Western Ghats region.
- To demarcate areas within the Western Ghats Region which need to be notified as ecologically sensitive and to recommend for notification of such areas as ecologically sensitive zones under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. In doing so, the Panel shall review the existing reports such as the Pronab Sen Committee report and Dr. T.S. Vijayraghavan Committee Report, Hon’ble Supreme Court’s directions, Recommendations, of the National
Board for Wildlife and consult all concerned State Governments.
- To make recommendations for the conservation, protection and rejuvenation of the Western Ghats Region following a
comprehensive consultation process involving people and Governments of all the concerned States.
- To suggest measures for effective implementation of the notifications issued by the Government of India in the Ministry of Environment and Forests declaring specific areas in the Western Ghats Region as Eco-sensitive zones under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
- To recommend the modalities for the establishment of Western Ghats Ecology Authority under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 which will be a professional body to manage the ecology of the region and to ensure its sustainable development with the support of all concerned states.
- To deal with any other relevant environment and ecological issues pertaining to Western Ghats Region, including those which may be referred to it by the Central Government in the Ministry of Environment and Forests
Sources: The Hindu, Wiki, TOI, PIB.