Keep plantations, habitations out of Western Ghats eco-sensitive zone: MPs

New Delhi, Aug 3 (IANS) Parliamentarians from six Western Ghats states on Monday urged Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar to exclude plantations, agricultural fields and habitats of locals from the eco-sensitive zone.

Interacting with the media here after meeting over 22 MPs from Goa, Karnataka, Gujarat, Tamil Nadu, Chennai and Maharashtra, Javadekar said they had “expressed their opinion and the overall tone of their suggestion is that we must protect nature and the habitat of the people simultaneously”.

“To do that, we can ban mining and highly polluting industries but the plantation, agriculture and the habituated area (of the local residents) should be excluded from the eco sensitive zone,” he added.

Terming this “a major suggestion”, Javadekar said further adding that another meeting to discuss ways to come up with a sustainable development model for Western Ghats will take place next week.

The environment ministry has to take a final decision on the demarcation of an eco-sensitive zone in the Western Ghats by the end of August. The meetings with parliamentarians from stakeholder states are an effort to get feedback before taking a final call.

Javadekar said that the final decision will be taken soon after studying survey reports submitted by the stakeholder states as well as consulting the people.

“We have received written reports from Kerala and Goa and the remaining states are ready with their reports and I hope we will receive them in the next 2-3 days. Based on these reports and after consulting the people, we will take a final call,” he said.

The K.Kasturirangan report had in 2013 recommended that 37 per cent of the Western Ghats area be declared as ecologically sensitive.

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