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Directions for the Western Ghat

Context

The recent catastrophic floods of Kerala have made attention to the 2011 report that relates to the Western Ghats. It is notable that this is a set of recommendations for preserving ecology and biodiversity attached to the Arabian Sea coast. In fact, the leading author, Pune based ecologist Madhav Gadgil, has publicly argued that if the recommendations of the report were implemented by the respective State Governments, then the level of disaster in Kerala is not as serious. Through this article, we will also compare it with the discussion of some important recommendations of Gadgil’s report, comparing it with Kasturirangan report.

Due to the establishment of Gadgil Committee

  • In February 2010, under the chairmanship of Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, a public meeting was held in Kotagiri, Tamil Nadu, which was organized mainly by people associated with the Western Ghat Group.
  • In this meeting speakers used to point out the damage to the ecosystem from construction, mining, industry, real estate and hydroelectricity.
  • After the meeting, Jairam Ramesh established the Western Ghats Ecological Expert Panel, headed by Gadgil.
  • The panel was asked to assess the ecological and biodiversity of the Western Ghats and with the coastline of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, 1500 km. Remedies for preserving and reviving the whole series were suggested. 

What did the Gadgil committee say?

  • It defines the boundaries of the Western Ghats for the purpose of ecological management.
  • This range is 1,29,037 sq. Km of the total area, which is 1.490 km from north to south. Is detailed in.
  • The maximum width of this boundary is 210 km in Tamil Nadu. And the minimum width is 48 km in Maharashtra. is. It is notable that it proposed that this entire area be named as an ecologically sensitive area (ESZ).
  • At the same time, small areas within this area were to be identified as I, II or III, on the basis of their current situation and the nature of the threat, the Ecological Sensitive Areas (ESZ).
  • Samiti proposed to divide this area into about 2,200 grid, out of which 75 percent fall under ESZ I or II or already under protected areas through wildlife sanctuary or natural gardens.

Major Recommendations: The
following are the major recommendations of the Gadgil Committee:

  • In this area, there should be restriction on genetically modified cultivation.
  • In three years, plastic bags should be phased disposal.
  • Establishment of a new Special Economic Zone should not be allowed.
  • Restrictions on the conversion of public land into private land and ban on forest land for non-forest purposes in ESZ I or II.
  • No new dam should be allowed under ESZ I.
  • No new thermal power plants or large-scale wind power projects in ESZ I should be allowed.
  • Establishment of a new polluting industry in ESZ I or II areas and railway lines or major roads 
  • Should not be allowed to be made.
  • There should be strict regulation regarding tourism in these areas.
  • Cumulative impact assessments for all new projects like dams, mines, tourism, housing should be done.
  • In addition, the committee also proposed to create a Western Ghat Ecology Authority to control these activities in this area.

Why did the Kasturirangan committee need again?

  • The Government first constituted the Madhav Gadgil Committee on the environment of the Western Ghats.
  • The committee had prepared and submitted the report to the government till mid-2011, but the Ministry of Environment did not take any action on this for a long time nor released it for public discussion. 
  • Finally, the court issued guidelines to the government to work on these recommendations.
  • Then the government constituted Kasturirangan Samiti to decide the further direction which had submitted its report to the government in April 2013.
  • Famous space scientist In view of opposition from many states including Kerala, the nine-member group, headed by Kasturirangan, was formed by the Ministry of Environment.
  • Those states had opposed the report of Madhav Gadgil Committee which had declared Western Ghats a fully sensitive area for ecology and had taken favor of limited mining and other development activities.

There are three major differences in the report of Gadgil Committee and Kasturirangan Samiti:

  • The first difference is the scope of the area, which is to be preserved as an ecologically sensitive area (ESZ: eco-sensitive zone).
  • The Gadgil committee has identified the entire Western Ghats as ESZ. But it has created three categories for the protected area, in which list activities will be permitted according to ecological prosperity and land use.
  • But the Kasturirangan Samiti adopted a different approach for this. It eliminated disposal of cash crops like rubber, residuals of agricultural areas and disposal in the ESZ area.
  • This was done because the committee had access to remote sensing technology in comparison to the Gadgil committee.
  • It also clarified the difference between cultural fabric and natural landscape. 
  • Kasturirangan Samiti has identified 37 percent of the Western Ghats under ESZ, which is 60,000 hectares and is less than the proposed 1,37,000 hectare of Gadgil committee.
  • The list of permissible activities in the protected area is the second point of difference between the two.
  • Recommendations of the Gadgil Committee are quite broad in this case, including restrictions on the use of pesticides and gene enriched seeds in agriculture, discouraging hydroelectric projects and promoting natural forestry rather than plantation, but the Kasturirangan Samiti The list did not give much importance.
  • He already removed a large portion of the land from the protected category. He made provision for banning activities that hurt major projects and environment in ESZ.
  • Apart from this, it has been said that there is a complete ban on the construction of all major buildings in the area of ​​20,000 sq.m., in addition to all types of mining and quarrying, red-grade industries, including thermal power plants.
  • Regarding hydroelectric projects, the committee has fixed the difficult conditions of interval between the rivers and adequate water flow in the rivers.
  • The third point of disagreement is the rule of governance. The Gadgil Committee has recommended a national authority, in which there are representatives of the state and the district level.
  • At the same time, Kasturirangan Samiti has recommended strengthening the existing structure of environmental clearance and making a state-of-the-art surveillance agency.

The Ministry of Environment accepted all the major recommendations made by Kasturirangan Samiti: 

  • Financial system for inspiring green growth in Western Ghats
  • Participation and engagement of local communities in decision making
  • Data Monitoring System for Western Ghats
  • Establishment of monitoring center

What was finally decided?

  • Last year, the Ministry of Environment has notified the area of ​​56,285 sq km in the form of ESA in Western Ghats. This area was slightly less than 59,940 square kilometers recommended by the Kasturirangan Samiti.
  • It is noteworthy that in particular Kasturirangan Samiti in Kerala had proposed an area of ​​13,108 sq km in the form of ESA.
  • Later on the request of the Kerala government it was limited to 9,993.7 square km.

Could the effect of floods in Kerala be reduced by the implementation of the Gadgil report?

  • केरल की आपदा अनिवार्य रूप से चरम वर्षा का परिणाम है और वर्ष 2013 के उत्तराखंड की बाढ़ के बाद से इस तरह के चरम वर्षा की घटनाओं ने हर साल भारत में एक आपदा जैसी स्थिति को जन्म दिया है।
  • उल्लेखनीय है कि गाडगिल रिपोर्ट वर्ष 2011 में सौंपी गई थी। भले ही राज्य सरकारों ने तत्काल सिफारिशों को गंभीरता से लागू करना शुरू कर दिया हो, फिर भी यह स्पष्ट नहीं है कि कौन सी गतिविधियाँ शुरू हुई हैं और कौन सी नहीं।
  • हमें पिछली त्रासदियों से सबक सीखने की आवश्यकता है और स्थायी तथा दीर्घकालिक विकास के माध्यम से आपदाग्रस्त इलाकों के लचीलेपन में वृद्धि करने के लिये गाडगिल रिपोर्ट के अनुसार प्राकृतिक प्रक्रियाओं में न्यूनतम हस्तक्षेप करना होगा।
  • यहाँ तक कि उत्तराखंड आपदा में भी अनियंत्रित निर्माण, बड़े जलविद्युत संयंत्रों और वनों की कटाई का मूल्यांकन विनाश के पैमाने की सही जानकारी प्राप्त करने के लिये किया गया था।

निष्कर्ष

  • It has now been accepted that the environment and development are the two sides of the same coin, and they need to look at each other’s competitors as complementary, otherwise, for the human civilization that has reached the threshold of climate change This one day will be the biggest cause of waste.
  • There is huge variation in ecology of different parts of a vast country like India. This is a unique identity in all these areas of Western Ghats.
  • To maintain the biodiversity of the Western Ghats is essential to protect forests and wildlife. Since the development of a human being has progressed through different stages in different phases, so the parts of our body are contained in the composition.
  • Indeed, due to the decrease in environment and biodiversity, we get to hear about new diseases, because the resistant parts of such diseases get us from these organisms and vegetation.
  • Therefore, in the name of development, messing with environment and biodiversity will prove to be a human civilization towards destruction.
  • Therefore, we have to co-ordinate between our needs and available resources and at the same time, governments have to understand this
Updated: October 17, 2018 — 4:18 pm

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