Saturday, August 21, 2010

Moratorium on projects in Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri

Moratorium on project proposals in 2 districts - Pune - City - The Times of India
PUNE: The Union ministry of environment and forests on Friday decided to impose a moratorium on consideration of projects under the environmental impact assessment notification, 2006, received by the ministry or the Maharashtra State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority from Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts after August 16 and till December 2010.

This decision followed concerns raised about the environmental impact and ecological degradation due to the large number of projects being proposed in the region as well as the projects under implementation. The ministry said that there was a need to take necessary regional approach during appraisal of projects.

The matter regarding developmental trends in these two districts was referred to the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel constituted by the ministry for conservation and protection of the Western Ghats region.

The projects were getting cleared in isolation one by one, which was not appropriate, Madhav Gadgil, chairman of the panel, told TOI on Friday. "So the ministry want to take a look at the whole range of developmental activities in these two districts, he added.

Recently, Union minister of environment and forests Jairam Ramesh, who was in Pune, had also pointed out the need to look into the impact on the eco-system due to power projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg.

Gadgil told TOI recently that the ministry had sought views on the projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg. In his presentation on western ghats, Gadgil says that environmental impact assessments completely ignore impacts of power lines associated with power projects. Destructive development projects are going ahead, despite every gram panchayat in the locality resolving that they do not want such activities.

Archana Godbole, member of the Save the Western Ghats movement core group, said that the moratorium was a welcome step. "It gives more time for NGOs and the people to have a say and stop these developmental projects, particularly the thermal power plant and mining projects in these bio-diversity rich places.''

According to Godbole, the proposed mining projects in Sindhudurg are expected to pose a threat to the forest eco-system. Iron ore mining has been proposed in the villages of Asaniye, Kolzar, Zolambe, Talkat, Dongarpal, Udeli and Galel in the Sawantwadi and Dodamarg blocks.

Godbole, who is also the director of the Applied Environmental Research Foundation, a city-based NGO working in the Konkan region, said that the Western Ghats part of Sindhudurg district included the area from the Amboli reserve forest to the westerly slopes through Sawantwadi and Dodamarg blocks to Tilari in the south, bordering Karnataka. The landscape is about 150 sq km and should be declared as ecologically sensitive.

Recently, the ministry has formed a supervisory committee to monitor the impact of suspended particulate matter, sulphur dioxide and nitrogen dioxide due to the coal-based thermal power plant at Jaigad in Ratnagiri district.

Read more: Moratorium on project proposals in 2 districts - Pune - City - The Times of India

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