By Soumitra Bose
Forward-looking, Inherently Enterprising, pro-Development, India-friendly, For-India-Of-India-By-India imbibing, pragmatic Environment Minister Prakash Javdekar has come to the rescue of more than (so far stuck) 2,000 villages in 12 districts of Maharashtra and 99 villages in Goa, affected by dethroned UPA Government’s anti-people notification ruthlessly (without thinking, considering the anti-people consequences) banning mining, quarrying, construction of thermal plants and big building complexes in ecologically sensitive areas.
They were officially identified by the Kasturi Rangan Committee which was formed as a follow-up on the earlier Madhav Gadgil Committee.
The Kasturi Rangan Panel recommended a ban on development activities in 60,000 sq km ecologically sensitive area spread over six states of Gujarat, Karnataka, Maharashtra, Goa, Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
Districts of Maharashtra in which the notification applied include Ahmednagar, Dhule, Kolhapur, Nandurbar, Nashik, Pune, Raigad, Ratnagiri, Sangli, Sindhudurge, Satara and Thane.
Minister Javdekar using his Ministerial prowess impressed the Modi Government to instantaneously implement the Kasturi Rangan report on the Western Ghats and banned mining in ecologically fragile areas and restricted buildings to less than 20,000 sq ft in 123 villages mentioned in the report.
(However, the latest guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) are not applicable to those granted permission before April 17, for obvious official reasons.)
Of the natural landscape, the biologically-rich areas with some measure of contiguity are roughly 37 per cent of the Western Ghats. This area is considered to have high biological richness, low forest fragmentation, low population density and contain protected areas, world heritage sites and tiger and elephant corridors.
Due to rumored unprecedented threats to the natural landscape of the Western Ghats by development projects and urban growth, the committee respected it to assuage local feelings, recommended a no-tolerance policy with respect to highly interventionist and environmentally damaging activities like mining or polluting industries.
The need for urgent action to protect the biologically rich, diverse and natural landscape of the Western Ghats, has also been fully elaborated and highlighted to avoid any damaging interpretations/implications/conclusions.
The so-far ban restricted activities like mining for stones and sand, atomic energy projects, construction up to 20,000 square metre or more, development of townships up to 50 hectares or more and with built up area measure more than 1.5 lakh square metres along with industries defined in the red category.
Javdekar’s Ministry of Environment and Forests has prepared a list of industries falling under these categories and they have been denied permission along the Western Ghats. The ban is to be implement with an immediate effect and will be applicable until further order.
Action will be taken under the provision of the Environment Protect Act 1986, against those found breaking the orders. However, the notification will not be applicable on a retrospective effect, it has been clarified.
Before Javdekar’s enterprising permission, districts, tehsils affected in the state were : Ahmednagar – Akola, Dhule – Sakri, Kolhapur- Ajra, Bavda, Bhudargad, Chandgad, Panhala, Radhanagari and Shahuwadi, Nandurbar – Navapur, Nashik – Baglan, Dindori, Igatpuri, Kalvan, Peth, Sinnar, Surgana and Tryambakeshwar, Pune – Ambegaon, Bhor, Haveli, Junnar, Khed, Maval, Mulshi, Purandar and Velhe, Raigad – Karjat, Khalapur, Mahad, Mangaon, Poladpur, Roha and Sudhagad, Ratnagiri – Chiplun, Khed, Lanja, Rajapur and Sangameshwar, Sangli – Shirala, Satara – Jawli and Koragaon (only Rautwadi and Gajarwadi), Mahabaleshwar, Patan, Satara and Wai, Sindhudurg – Devgad, Kankavli, Sawantwadi and Vaibhavwadi, Thane – Javhar, Mokhada, Murbad, Shahapur and Wada — About 2,038 villages altogether.
Javdekar with this “action” of his has evinced that like “NarendraBhai ModiJee”, He too is pro-Development, not-at-all-mere-slogan-shouter-&-silent-observer-&-slogan-giver.