Western Ghats conservation issue to be addressed democratically: Govt

Amid controversy over two reports on Western Ghats, the government on Tuesday said the issue of conserving the ecologically-sensitive hills in six states will be addressed in a democratic way.

PTI| Updated: Sep 02, 2014, 21:59 PM IST

New Delhi: Amid controversy over two reports on Western Ghats, the government on Tuesday said the issue of conserving the ecologically-sensitive hills in six states will be addressed in a democratic way.

"We will address the issue through a democratic process... We have asked all six states to do ground truthing and submit a report. After we get the report, we will call a meeting of all six states," Environment Minister Prakash Javedkar told reporters here.

A lot of ground work has been done and still going on. Every village was being visited to find the physical condition and know what the people want, he said.

Two reports on hills prepared by Madhav Gadgil and Kasturirangan have made several recommendations to protect the Western Ghats spread across six states -- Kerala, Tamil Nadu, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

However, both the them ran into controversy and were not implemented and the matter was pending before the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The August 2011 Gadgil report was criticised for being too environment-friendly and not in tune with the ground realities, while the panel headed Kasturirangan analysed this report and submitted a diluted version trying to make a balance between both development and environment.

Last month, in an affidavit filed before the NGT, the Ministry of Environment and Forests had said it was examining recommendations of K Kasturirangan-led panel and will not process the Gadgil report for further action.

The Tribunal had asked the ministry to file an appropriate response in this regard on September 9.

The NGT 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.