Western Ghats Ecology Panel delays report on green zones

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Mumbai, Jun 30: The expert panel for the Western Ghats Ecology, which was due to submit its report on the demarcation of ecologically sensitive areas in the Western Ghats to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) by Jun 30, has requested for the time to be extended due to some uncompleted technical views.

“They (the panel) have asked for time till August 31, which has been granted," said environment minister, Jairam Ramesh.

This will be the third time that the panel got an extension. The ecologically sensitive zones were to get demarcated by Mar 31, which afterwards was stretched to Jun 30.

“There is some technical work left and it may take less than a month. We want the report to be scientific with objective recommendations that will allow the public to review and question it as well," said Madhav Gadgil, professor and chairperson of the panel. “Previous recommendations have been subjective and arbitrary," he said.

While the mandate of MoEF was to identify the 'go and no go' areas, the panel have now decided to mark the areas from highly sensitive to less sensitive zones.

“The panel will demarcate geographical boundaries on the basis of the slope, elevation and continuity of hilly tracts so that the boundaries will not be discontinuities," Gadgil said adding, “The ministry will decide, which recommendations to notify."

The panel is also suggesting a Western Ghats Authority constituting state level committees that will have legal authority to set up developmental proposals for ecologically sensitive areas in various states.

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