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Plea in Supreme Court against implementation of Gadgil and Kasturirangan reports on Western Ghats

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New Delhi (ILNS): A petition has been filed in the Supreme Court challenging the constitutional validity of the 2018 draft notification issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEFCC) proposing 56,825 sq km area of the Western Ghats as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).

The petition filed by NGO Karshaka Shabdam, through Advocate Suvidutt MS, says that the notification is violative of the right to life and livelihood enshrined under Article 21 of the Indian Constitution.

The petitioner has sought a direction to the State of Kerala to not implement the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee and the Kasturirangan Committee with a further prayer to direct the state to implement the recommendations of the Oommen V Oommen Committee.

Gadgil Commission, an environmental research commission, is named after its chairman Madhav Gadgil. The commission is formally known as Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP). The commission submitted the report to the Government of India on August 31, 2011. The Kasturirangan committee was set up to study the Gadgil committee report on the Western Ghats.

The petitioners have submitted that the Oommen V Oommen Committee report which is based on the memoranda of 9,000 individuals, NGOs, schools, public representatives, farmers organizations and include satellite survey mandating stoppage of land acquisition should be taken into consideration.

It has further been submitted that the Gadgil and Kasturirangan committees failed to “carry out any ground truthing to check the reliability of the ecological sensitivity scores for each grid as finally demarcated by the panel and recommended and thus ended up taking Taluk and village boundaries as the boundaries for ESA.”

The petitioner has further questioned the rationale of the draft notification which has failed to include the measures to incentivize green growth advocated by the HLWG and those proposed in the National Agro-forestry Policy, 2014″.

It has further been stated that “some of the proposals in WGEEP report are draconian. For example, decommissioning of dams older than 50 years, would leave the state without power in a few years without any alternate solutions in place”.

The petitioner has also submitted that land being a state subject, the authority, control and regulation cannot be transferred to the Central Government.

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