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Moef constitute committee to define inviolate areas

The environment ministry will re-define forests areas for declaring them inviolate (out of bound) for industrial projects.

delhi Updated: May 31, 2012 22:30 IST
Chetan Chauhan

The environment ministry will re-define forests areas for declaring them inviolate (out of bound) for industrial projects.



A committee headed by secretary environment T Chatterjee has been constituted to identify the forest areas in India where industrial activity is likely to be prohibited.



A Group of Ministers headed by finance minister Pranab Mukherjee had scrapped the go, no-go policy for coal mining in forest areas. It, however, agreed to declare “pristine” forest areas as inviolate on insistence of environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan and asked environment ministry to come up with recommendations in this regard.



Environment minister Jayanthi Natarajan informed the group of ministers on Wednesday that the committee will soon commence work to formulate a scientific formula to identify inviolate forest areas.



The Forest Survey of India (FSI), which does satellite mapping of trees, will be assisting the committee in identifying dense areas, which needs to be conserved for its rich bio-diversity and wildlife.



Government sources said that national parks and sanctuaries are likely to be covered under the ambit of the new inviolate areas. The minister reportedly told the GoM that industrial activity in the protected areas should not be allowed.



The GoM asked the ministry to speed up the work of the committee and submit its report as soon as possible. Although the committee has been constituted it is yet to start its work on identifying inviolate forest areas for industrial activity.



However, the GoM approved two major mining projects – Mahan and Chhattrasal --- in thick forest areas. Environment group Greenpeace, however, termed the decision as bad for locals, whose forest rights have been ignored.



Green tribunal stays MoEF decision allowing filling of Maheshwar dam.



The National Green Tribunal on Thursday restrained the Madhya Pradesh government from filling water in Maheshwar Dam up to 154 meters till further orders.



A bench headed by NGT chief Justice S Naidu brushed aside the opposition of Environment ministry and project proponent S Kumar group against the plea of local villagers that submergence will lead to “irreparable damage to life and livelihood.”



“What is this? You are opposing an status quo order just before the vacations (of courts) are to begin... Sorry gentleman. We will say don't fill it (the dam reservoir)," Justice Naidu said. "It (the dam) is not going to run away. It is not a run away project. You are not producing electricity. You only want to experiment," the bench said.



The Maheshwar dam, the country's first privately-financed 400 MW hydro power project is one of the big dams of the Narmada Valley Development Project, which entails construction of 30 big and 135 mid-size dams in the Narmada valley.