A Goa-based NGO has decided to contest the Centre's decision to junk the report on Western Ghats by Madhav Gadgil before the National Green Tribunal.
In an affidavit filed before the NGT, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) submitted that it is examining recommendations of K Kasturirangan-led panel and will not process the Gadgil report for further action. The Tribunal was hearing a plea by two NGOs, Goa Foundation and Peaceful Society, which had sought to restrain the authorities from granting fresh nods to projects in the region.
The NGT bench yesterday directed the counsel appearing for the Ministry to seek instructions from MoEF and file an appropriate response in this regard on September 9.
"The court has given us time to challenge the MoEF order which we will be doing," Goa Foundation's Director Dr Claud Alvares told PTI today.
"It is unfortunate that MoEF has given up an ecologically well developed report which was formed after public consultation and replaced it with the report (Kasturirangan) which has not given power to grass root bodies like gram sabhas," Alvares said.
He said the Gadgil panel report, Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), was a "very good report" prepared by 12 people who are living in the Western Ghats.
"They (MoEF) have preferred to go for scientific report where none of the members are from Western Ghats and which has imposed the protection of the region from the top (referring to bureaucrats and law makers)," he said.
"All environment regimes which are imposed from the top have failed. Government does not have mechanism to implement its own laws. It is the bodies like gram sabhas which can do it," said the noted environmentalist.
The Gadgil panel in its report to MoEF dated August 31, 2011 has designated the entire Western Ghats as an ecologically-sensitive area and divided the whole region in three categories according to their ecological sensitivities.
The WGEEP had in its report recommended that no mining should be allowed in the Western Ghats in Goa.
For mining activities in other areas in two categories, WGEEP had recommended that no new licenses should to be given and where mining exists, it should be phased out in five years by 2016.
The committee had also recommended that no new polluting industry should be allowed in the regions of the first two categories and non-polluting industries may be allowed with strict regulation and social audit.