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No new project in Western Ghats until final notification, orders Green Tribunal

No new project in Western Ghats until final notification, orders Green Tribunal

New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal Thursday ordered that clearance to any new project in ecologically sensitive Western Ghats should not be granted until its final notification.

The Tribunal, while giving its judgment on the plea of two NGOs against grant of clearance to any new project in the Western Ghats, emphasized on the need to protect ecologically sensitive areas in the Western Ghats. It also ruled that its November-13 order on that matter be followed until the final notification on the issue is released.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar had earlier asked the Secretary of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to file an affidavit following the plea.

MoEF had, earlier, informed the Tribunal that state governments of the Western Ghats region may propose exclusion or inclusion of certain areas in Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA) after undertaking demarcation by physical verification.

The Tribunal had, earlier, pulled up the Ministry for changing its stand on the issue of protection of ecologically sensitive Western Ghats and called it as the "most messy ministry".

The Environment Ministry, which had junked the report on Western Ghats by Madhav Gadgil, had told the tribunal that it has doubts about both the reports (Gadgil and K Kasturirangan) and wants to do physical demarcation by conducting a survey.

Western Ghats is a geological landform on the fringe of the west coast of India which extends over a distance of approximately 1500 km and traverses through six states viz Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.

NGOs Goa Foundation and Peaceful Society had sought that authorities be restrained from granting nod to new projects in the Western Ghats region.

On August 27, in an affidavit filed before the NGT, MoEF had informed that it was examining the recommendations of Kasturirangan-led panel and would not process the Gadgil report for further action.

(With PTI inputs)

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