Envis Centre, Ministry of Environment & Forest, Govt. of India

Printed Date: Monday, February 26, 2024

Gadgil Report: MoEF Flayed for Inaction

 NEW DELHI: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has come under strong criticism from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for failing to take a final call on the fate of Madhav Gadgil Report on Western Ghats.

The report had faced opposition from the states for recommending that almost three-fourth of the hills, including cultivated lands, plantations and large habitations, be turned into a restricted development zone.

The court pulled up the MoEF for filing a “vague affidavit” and asked it to give a final decision by Wednesday.

The Bench, headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, said, despite the court’s specific directions, the MoEF had failed to file an appropriate affidavit.

“Why can’t it (MoEF) take a clear stand on whether it wants to keep the Gadgil report or not? If it can’t then we will have to call the MoEF Secretary in person to clear the matter,” Justice Kumar said.

After the MoEF counsel pleaded that the matter needs to be taken up with the senior officials he was asked to file a fresh affidavit by Wednesday. The ministry has drawn flak from the tribunal several times in the past over the absence of MoEF representative in important cases. The ministry is in the process of amending the NGT Act to dilute the powers of the green court. The MoEF in its three-page affidavit submitted before the NGT said the High Level Working Group (HLWG) report is a subsequent report to the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report chaired by Gadgil that the ministry is examining and further processing the HLWG report.

The counsel appearing for Kerala said that no clearance for mining has been granted since the Gadgil report came in 2012 and even mining has been stopped in cases where clearance was granted prior to the report.

Kasturirangan Panel was set up to study the Gadgil Committee report on the Western Ghats which in its report on April 2013 suggested the 37 per cent of the area be declared ecologically sensitive and called for restricting commercial activities like mining, thermal power plants, polluting industries and large housing plans.

The UPA Government had dragged its feet on the matter due to the possible political repercussions and now the NDA Government has to take a final call on the matter.

The UPA Government had in October 2013 issued a notification giving in-principle approval to implement Kasturirangan Committee report.

 Source :http://m.newindianexpress.com/top-news/356193