States express desire to expedite early notification of Ecologically Sensitive Area of Western Ghats

Maharashtra, Gujarat, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Kerala and Goa has expressed interest in an early notification of ESA (Ecologically Sensitive Area) in Western Ghats. The Chief Ministers, Cabinet Ministers and State Government Officers of these states interacted with Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar through Video Conference on 21st May, 2020.

The notification of Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) in Western Ghats is pending for a long time since the days of UPA Government.

To conserve and protect the bio diversity of Western Ghats the Manmohan Singh led UPA Government had first created the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel under the Chairmanship of renowned ecologist Prof. Madhav Gadgil. However, the UPA Government didnít like the report and hence had created a High Level Working Group under the Chairmanship of Dr. Kasturirangan to allegedly water down the report. The Kasturirangan Committee had recommended that geographical areas identified by it in the six States of Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra, Gujarat and Tamil Nadu to be declared as Ecologically Sensitive Areas. No action was taken after the Modi Government came into power in May 2014.

In August 2018, Kerala witnessed the worst floods in a century with massive destruction of human habitations and loss of life. 483 people died and 140 were reported missing in the floods. The rampant destruction of ecologically sensitive areas led to massive landslides which gave rise to such large scale devastation and there was a renewed call for implementation of the Gadgil report. Soon a draft notification was issued in October 2018 mentioning the areas to be notified in the ESA and since then it has been pending.

States were of unanimous view that looking into the importance of Western Ghats, there is need to ensure protection of the western Ghats. However, the states donít want to antagonize the people and hence expressed their views regarding activities and extent of area mentioned in the said notification. It was decided that state specific issues shall be further deliberated so as to arrive at a consensus on the issue. The states expressed their desire to expedite early notification while protecting interest of ecology and environment.