Decision on Western Ghats report only after consulting 6 states: MoEF
The state government has been asked to communicate its stand regarding the implementation of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report by the Bombay high court.
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had earlier written to the chief ministers of Maharashtra, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa and Gujarat eliciting their detailed comments on the report.
According to a communication sent by the environment ministry to the state government, the secretary to the ministry had convened a meeting with the principal secretaries (environment ministry) of the six state governments to understand the views of the concerned state governments on the report.
“Till such time the ministry is not in a position to take a final decision on the report,” the communication states.
A division bench of justice DD Sinha and justice VK Tahilramani was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) seeking orders to get the Centre to declare the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg corridor in Sindhudurg district as eco-sensitive.
The court had earlier stated that the report should be made public. The PIL by Awaaz Foundation stated that the declaration — as in case of Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani and Matheran — is necessary to prevent development and mining activities owing to the bio-diversity reserves of the corridor.
According to petitioner Sumaira Abdul Ali, the state government has already sent its comments on the report to the union ministry.
Petitioner’s lawyer, Rohan Cama had earlier contended that the report should be made public. Justice Sinha had said, “No doubt the report has to be made public. There is no secret here as the public has to know about it.” The judges have asked the government to file an affidavit by March 12.
Stating that they were not against environmental-friendly development and tourism, the petitioners said that this corridor, in particular, facilitates movement of wild animals such as the Asiatic elephant and the endangered tiger.