KASTURIRANGAN REPORT ON WESTERN GHATS
The Committee on Government Assurances in the Rajya Sabha has urged the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to constitute a committee to address the issues and grievances of local people in Western Ghats. The committee has submitted a report in this regard.
Observations made by the committee:
- Over 56,000 square kilometres of ecologically sensitive areas (ESA) in the Western Ghats could not be earmarked as ‘no-go’ zones due to State governments’ ‘insensitivity’.
- The recent monsoon floods in Kerala and parts of Karnataka should serve as alarm bells for the administrations in the States of Goa, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, Tamil Nadu and Karnataka, which have failed to mark ESA in the Western Ghats.
The panel had examined issues regarding the categorisation of the Western Ghats as ESA as per the recommendations of two committees led by Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan. The panel examined 62 assurances during its deliberations with various State governments and other organisations, and had visited Pune, Mumbai, Chennai and Bengaluru, before preparing its report.
The committee is of the view that implementation of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan report is only possible with active support of local population. It also requires consultation with the State government at micro level to achieve the objectives of saving the Western Ghats.
Gadgil Committee Report:
It defined the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purposes of ecological management. It proposed that this entire area be designated as ecologically sensitive area (ESA).
Within this area, smaller regions were to be identified as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) I, II or III based on their existing condition and nature of threat.
- It proposed to divide the area into about 2,200 grids, of which 75 per cent would fall under ESZ I or II or under already existing protected areas such as wildlife sanctuaries or natural parks.
- The committee proposed a Western Ghats Ecology Authority to regulate these activities in the area.
Need for the hour of Kasturirangan Committee
- None of the six concerned states agreed with the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee, which submitted its report in August 2011.
- In August 2012, then Environment Minister constituted a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats under Kasturirangan to “examine” the Gadgil Committee report in a “holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received” from states, central ministries and others.
Recommendations of Kasturirangan Committee:
- A ban on mining, quarrying and sand mining.
- No new thermal power projects, but hydro power projects allowed with restrictions.
- A ban on new polluting industries.
- Building and construction projects up to 20,000 sq m was to be allowed but townships were to be banned.
- Forest diversion could be allowed with extra safeguards.