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Gadgil report not mandatory for giving clearance in WGhats: NGT

Gadgil report not mandatory for giving clearance in WGhats: NGT

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal Tuesday said that it is no longer mandatory for the environment ministry to refer to Gadgil panel's report while deciding applications for clearance for projects in permissible areas of the western ghats.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar clarified that with the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) accepting 'in-principle' the recommendations of the K Kasturirangan panel report, the MoEF can now consider either of the reports while deciding the applications for clearance.

"We vary the our interim order of September 20, 2012 to the extent that it is not mandatory for the MoEF to decide the application for any clearances in the permissible area of the Western Ghat only with reference to Gadgil report.

"They are free to take into consideration either of the reports and other relevant factors in accordance with law," the bench said and listed the matter on December 17.

The western ghats is an ecologically sensitive area which is spread across the six states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala.

The tribunal also observed that MoEF's October 19, 2013 office memorandum (OM), stating the government's acceptance of recommendations of Kasturirangan panel is silent on various aspects and directed the ministry to file an affidavit to put the matter "beyond ambiguity".

"This OM is silent with regard to the stipulations, the scope of the monitoring Committee as well as Notification which is contemplated to be issued, and the time frame in that regard. Thus, we direct the MoEF to file an appropriate affidavit answering all these issues in order to put the matters beyond ambiguity...," the bench said.

Meanwhile, the petitioner Goa Foundation, represented by senior advocate Raj Panjwani, was asked to file a comparative statement about the recommendations of the two panels as well as the acceptance and stand of the ministry in that regard.


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