Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA)
- The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) had issued a draft notification which demarcated large parts of Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Gujarat, Maharashtra and as eco-sensitive areas.
- A report from the Kasturirangan committee from 2013 recommended classifying 37 percent of the Western Ghats, or an area of 59,940 sq. km, as ESA.
- This led to the introduction of many proposals, which the neighboring states later rejected.
What is in the new draft?
- In the five states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Goa, and Tamil Nadu, 46,832 sq. km are designated as ESA in the Western Ghats by the draught notification.
- Kerala is not included in the draught notification and had already started the practice of physically verifying the ESA boundaries in the state.
- In comparison to the 13,108 sq. km proposed by the K Kasturirangan panel, which released its findings in 2013, the ESA approved by the Kerala state government is spread over an area of 9,993.7 square kilometers.
What are the curbs?
- According to the draught notification, all mining, quarrying, and sand mining is prohibited within the ESA.
- Within five years of the final notification’s issuance or the expiration of the current mining lease, all active mines must be phased out.
- In addition, it forbids the construction of new “Red” category industries as well as the development of existing “Red” category factories in the sensitive area.
- These include operations like coal liquefaction and petrochemical manufacture that have a Pollution Index score of 60 or above.
- The regions will also be off limits for the building of new townships and neighborhood initiatives.
About the Kasturirangan Panel:
- The panel was established in 2012 with the mission of bringing “synergy” between the objectives of preserving the environment and biodiversity, while sustaining the needs and aspirations of the local and indigenous people, of sustainable development, and of environmental integrity of the region.
- This high-level working group made recommendations for upcoming actions to be taken to stop further deterioration of the Ghats’ delicate environment.
- The research had advocated a complete prohibition on thermal power projects, red category businesses, mining, and quarrying.
- Additionally, it was noted that before approval is granted, the effects of infrastructure projects on the forest and animals should be researched.
Source: The Hindu