All new power and mining projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts will have to wait longer to take off. The Ministry of Environment and Forests, on Monday, extended the moratorium on all new project proposals for six months — till June 30.
This means all proposals that were sent to the ministry seeking terms of reference or environmental clearance after August 16 will not be processed till June-end. “The matter was referred to the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel and the report is awaited for deciding on consideration of projects,” read the ministry’s statement.
The panel, headed by ecologist Madhav Gadgil, is scheduled to submit its report by June end. It will list ecologically sensitive areas along the Western Ghats.
Last August, the ministry had imposed a moratorium on all new projects till December 31 after taking cognizance of the large number of project proposals in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg and the subsequent representations from environmental groups raising ecological concerns.
Dr Jayendra Parulekar, environmental activist from Sindhudurg, said the moratorium extension was good news. “With rising unrest among the locals about these projects, the state government needs to give a serious thought on sanctioning new projects,” he said.
At least 15 thermal and coal power plants and one nuclear power plant are proposed in Ratnagiri, while 49 mining leases have been granted in Sindhudurg. In December, in an interim report, Gadgil had concluded that there was little enforcement of environment protection laws, inadequate monitoring and unsatisfactory measures for grievance redressal.