Sunday, September 12, 2010

Maha MPs want eco-panel to allow development in W Ghats

Maha MPs want eco-panel to allow development in W Ghats -
The Times of India

PUNE: Twenty-one members of Parliament  from six states including Maharashtra have submitted their views and suggestions about the ecology and sustainable development of Western Ghats to the ministry of environment and forests Jairam Ramesh.

The meeting held recently was attended by Ramesh, ministry officials and the Western Ghats ecology experts' panel. The MPs who represented Maharashtra were Sanjeev Naik, Udayanraje Bhonsle, Anand Paranjpe, Shivaji Adhalrao Patil and Anant Geete.

According to the MPs, the areas in Ratnagiri and Raigad districts need urgent development that will generate jobs and alleviate poverty and this should be remembered while declaring no go' areas here.

The panel's aim is identification of no go' areas where no development would be allowed and identify others where development needs regulation.

Chairman of the experts' panel and noted ecologist Madhav Gadgil told TOI that the MPs' main concern was that if a project has already got environmental clearance then it should not be taken up for reconsideration by the ministry.

"But the ministry's circular clearly states that no activity relating to any project covered under the environmental impact assessment (EIA) notification including civil construction except fencing of the site to protect it from encroachment and construction of temporary shed for the guard can be undertaken without environmental clearance,'' he said.

This decision came after representations expressing concern about the environmental impacts and ecological degradation due to many projects being proposed in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts as well as the projects under implementation were received.

This led the ministry to impose a moratorium on consideration of projects under the EIA notification, 2006, received by the ministry or by Maharashtra State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) after August 16, 2010, for terms of reference on environmental clearance from these two districts till December 2010.

Gadgil said that many times the project is started and environment clearance is taken for granted. "The developeers then say they have spent huge amounts. It is absolutely improper, " said Gadgil.

At a meeting with Ramesh in New Delhi on September 7, Gadgil suggested that they have a strategy to regulate developmental activities in a particular location. "Depending on the location, developmental activities may not be permitted, whereas in other places it can be given permission and regulated considering the environmental sensitivity and ecological significance of the region. The minister has agreed and the panel will stick to this,'' he said.

Gadgil said that the MPs' suggestions will be looked into by both the panel and the MoEF.

Read more: Maha MPs want eco-panel to allow development in W Ghats - The Times of India

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