Nearly nine months after the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) submitted its report to the Centre, the union environment ministry finally uploaded the report on its website late on Wednesday night.
The ministry has sought comments from the public within 45 days on the report that was submitted by the panel headed by ecologist Madhav Gadgil. However, the ministry has added a disclaimer: "The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel report has not been formally accepted by the ministry and that the report is still being analysed and considered by the ministry".
The Gadgil Committee report was submitted last August and was to be officially released in September. However, the event was deferred indefinitely. Earlier this month, the Central Information Commissioner directed the environment ministry to provide a summary of the report under the Right to Information Act to an applicant. The ministry then moved a plea in the Delhi high court against making the report public. On May 20, however, the court directed the ministry to upload the report on its website.
"A lot of time has been lost since the submission of the report. Now that it's in the public domain, the ministry should make the report available in regional languages so that locals have a say in the development of western ghats region," Gadgil said. "We just want a democratic process involving stakeholders to be followed before framing policies."
Maharashtra has rejected the report terming it impractical and has objected to the classification of 43 of its talukas under a zone where no development other than agriculture will be allowed.