No mining activities in Western Ghats, says Environment Ministry

Aesha Datta New Delhi | Updated on March 12, 2018 Published on December 20, 2013

The Kasturirangan panel recognised about 37 per cent of the Western Ghats, covering about 60,000 square km, to be "ecologically sensitive". Photo: Paul Noronha   -  PAUL NORONHA

Accepts Kasturirangan report, but allows farming/plantation

The ecologically-sensitive Western Ghats will remain off-bounds for new mining, sand mining, quarrying and some category of industrial activities, the Ministry of Environment and Forests said.

But under pressure from States such as Kerala, the Ministry permitted agriculture and plantation activities along the Western Ghats. Existing projects will be allowed to continue.

In a memorandum issued on Friday, the Ministry endorsed the recommendations of the high-level working group under K. Kasturirangan, Member (Science), Planning Commission, that all destructive industrial activities, including mining and thermal power plants, should be banned in the region.

Red category

While all new red category industries — petrochemicals, oil refineries, smelting and steel plants to name a few — have been banned, hydro power generation has been allowed. Red category industries are those that are responsible for high pollution levels.

The Ministry said that new projects or expansion of existing projects of mining, quarrying, thermal power plants, construction projects that are larger than 20,000 square metres, townships with an area of 50 hectare or more, and all red category industries will be banned.

Sensitive area

The panel recognised about 37 per cent of the Western Ghats, covering about 60,000 square kilometres and spread across six States — Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu — to be “ecologically sensitive area”.

Also, it said that activities that are not specifically banned will be scrutinised before environmental clearances are granted.

Further, the note added that as under the Forest Rights Act, “the consent of the Gram Sabha for projects in ESA will be mandatory.”

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Published on December 20, 2013
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