Exclude 15% of Western Ghats ESA for mining, industries: State requests Centre

HT Image
HT Image
Published on May 13, 2020 11:11 PM IST
Copy Link
By, Mumbai

The state will request the Centre to exclude 15% of the area proposed as eco-sensitive area (ESA) in the Western Ghats, in Maharashtra, to allow mining and industrial activity.

The proposal will be made today during a meeting with the Union environment ministry, which is expected to decide on the matter at the same meeting. On Monday, during a meeting chaired by state forest minister Sanjay Rathore with senior forest officials, it was decided the state would request the Union environment ministry to exclude 15%, or 17 villages, from the final ESA notification, said Jeet Singh, additional principal chief conservator of forest, Maharashtra forest department. “This was proposed based on suggestions received from the state’s industries department and mining bodies as the draft ESA extends into some villages falling within mining and Maharashtra Industrial Development Corporation (MIDC) areas,” said Singh. He said the state would modify its final response to the draft ESA on the basis of the Centre’s response.

Declaring an ESA imposes restrictions on setting up projects such as mining, quarrying, thermal power plants, industrial units and construction in the area.

On October 3, 2019, the Union environment ministry had proposed a draft of the ESA in the Western Ghats — 56,825 square kilometres (sqkm) spanning six states and covering 37% of the Western Ghats — of which 17,340 sqkm (2,133 villages) were in Maharashtra. So far, the state forest department has excluded 358 of the 2,133 villages from the ESA.

A senior forest official, requesting anonymity, said among the villages planned for exclusion are those in the Dodamarg-Sawantwadi forests, an important elephant and tiger corridor along the Maharashtra-Goa border. The wildlife corridor, home to tigers, leopards, elephants, sloth bears, migratory bird species and the Indian giant squirrel (Maharashtra’s state animal) connects the Radhanagari Wildlife Sanctuary in Kolhapur in Maharashtra to Bhimgad Wildlife Sanctuary in Karnataka. The villages will be opened up to mining projects.

Ecologist Madhav Gadgil, who headed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel formed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests in 2010, said, “There is a much larger area that needs to be protected comprising origins of rivers and major water courses. They have all been traditionally protected. We are witnessing an era of complete destruction of nature to fill the pockets of a small number of people, which is leading to an increase in the economic disparities. Exclusion of 2,500 plus sqkm will certainly lead to social unrest for local communities for these villages.”

Kanchi Kohli, an environmental governance expert with Delhi-based Centre for Policy Research said, “From the very beginning ESAs are being declared without taking the local situation into account or holding any public consultations. A decision to keep such areas in or outside protected zones needs to be a much more widespread exercise rather than a decision between state and Central governments alone.”


    Badri Chatterjee is an environment correspondent at Hindustan Times, Mumbai. He writes about environment issues - air, water and noise pollution, climate change - weather, wildlife - forests, marine and mangrove conservation

Close Story

Less time to read?

Try Quickreads

  • As per the resolution, the Jammu district magistrate is required to ensure that no such devices are played within the MC jurisdiction between 10 pm and 6 am. (HT PHOTO)

    Jammu MC passes resolution to remove illegal loudspeakers from religious, public places

    In a move aimed at reducing noise pollution and providing relief to people, especially students, ailing and the elderly, the Jammu municipal corporation on Tuesday passed a resolution for the removal of loudspeakers and public address systems operating without permission from religious and public places, evoking criticism from the rival Congress. Corporators from the Opposition stiffly opposed the decision and said that it will vitiate peaceful atmosphere of Jammu, known for brotherhood.

  • Security forces had set up a checkpoint at Chandpora in Budgam and arrested the two terrorist associates, who were identified as Zahid Ahmad Sheikh and Sahil Bashir Dar. (Image for representational purpose)

    J&K: Two overground workers of LeT arrested in Budgam

    Security forces on Tuesday arrested two overground workers of Lashkar-e-Taiba from Budgam district of Jammu and Kashmir, police said. “Police, along with security forces, have arrested two terrorist associates of proscribed terror outfit LeT in Budgam. Incriminating materials, explosives and ammunition were also recovered from their possession,” a police spokesman said.

  • During the pandemic, Mir Iqbal came up with the slogan ‘Respect all, suspect all’, earning the appreciation of the Prime Minister during a videoconference with select panchayat members. (HT Photo)

    Kashmir panchayat member goes the extra mile to implement government schemes

    A 37-year-old panchayat member from north Kashmir's Narwav area, Mir Iqbal, is reputed to go the extra mile and not just figuratively, as he moves from village to village trying to solve people's problems and implement government schemes on the grassroots level. A post-graduate from Kashmir University, Iqbal, joined politics in 2011 as a young Congress worker. The Narwav block, spread over 56 square kilometres, comprises 17 panchayats.

  • Himachal Pradesh chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on Tuesday announced to open SDM offices at Rakkar and Kotla Behar and block development office at Dadasiba in Jaswan Pragpur assembly constituency in Kangra. (Aqil Khan/Hindustan Times File)

    Himachal: SDM offices to come up at Rakkar, Kotla Behar in Kangra

    Himachal chief minister Jai Ram Thakur on Tuesday announced to open SDM offices at Rakkar and Kotla Behar and block development office at Dadasiba in Jaswan Pragpur assembly constituency in Kangra. He was addressing a public meeting at Pragpur after inaugurating and laying foundation stones of 39 development projects worth 190 crore. He slammed the Congress' decision of appointing four working presidents in a small state like Himachal Pradesh.

  • AAP leader Manish Sisodia being welcomed in Shimla on Tuesday. (Deepak Sansta / Hindustan Times)

    AAP slams Jai Ram govt over deteriorating education system; baseless allegations, says BJP

    The Aam Aadmi Party, which is trying to make inroads into the bipolar politics in Himachal, on Tuesday announced that education and healthcare will be its main poll planks in the state assembly elections scheduled for later this year. AAP leader and Delhi education minister Manish Sisodia on Tuesday interacted with students and teachers to get the first-hand account of the education standards in Himachal Pradesh.

Story Saved
Saved Articles
My Reads
Sign out
New Delhi 0C
Wednesday, May 18, 2022