3 January 2021.
Union Environment Ministry has extended measures to conserve the ecologically sensitive Western Ghats. It will be delayed by another six months. Deadline to notify new rules have been extended till June 30, 2022.
- Earlier deadlines were set to expire on December 31, 2021.
- On December 31, environment ministry issued a notification to amend Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986. In rule 5 (3) (d), December 31, 2021, will be substituted by June 30, 2022.
- This clause is applicable to prohibition or restrictions imposed by government on the location of industries or carrying the processes and operations in an area.
- The government seeks to prohibit or restrict industrial and developmental activities across 37% of the area in the mountain range. It accounts for an area of 59,940 sq km, over five states.
Experts had called for demarcation of ecologically sensitive areas immediately, following floods and landslides in the Western Ghats in Maharashtra and Kerala in June 2021.
About the rules
- Environment protection act rules mandates the central government to consider all observations and objections within 120 days of the publication in official gazette.
- It imposes the new curbs within 180 days, that has been amended to extend the timeline.
- The six Western Ghats states namely, Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Goa, Karnataka, Maharashtra and Gujarat, have opposed several measures.
Recommendations of Madhav Gadgil committee
- Western Ghats is an ecologically fragile region.
- In 2010, Madhav Gadgil committee had recommended to declare 75% of the 129037 sq km area in the Western Ghats as an environmentally sensitive area. Committee had recommended so, because of dense forest and large number of endemic species in the western Ghats.
- In 2013, K Kasturirangan committee had lowered it down to 50%.
- Recommendations of Kasturirangan report were further diluted, and four draft notifications have been issued since then.
The Western Ghats
- Western Ghats is a mountain range, covering an area of 160,000 km2 in a stretch of 1,600 km parallel to western coast of Indian peninsula.
- It covers the states of Goa, Karnataka, Gujarat, Maharashtra, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu.
- It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one among the eight biodiversity hotspots of the world.
- As per UNESCO, Western Ghats are older than the Himalaya