- What is Gadgil Panel?
- Ecologically Sensitive Zones (ESZ)
- Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA)?
- Zonal recommendations
- General recommendations
In the last two articles, we saw
- Western Ghats: overview of physical geography and biodiversity:
- Threats to the biodiversity of Western Ghats:
- 2010: Environment ministry created this panel
- Full name: Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel
- Chairman=Prof. Madhav Gadgil (he was Ex-Chairman, Centre for Ecological Sciences, in Indian Institute of Science)
- To study the ecological and environmental problems of Western Ghats and give recommendations.
- Gadgil submitted his report in 2011. Here are his observations and recommendations.
- Environment Protection Act 1986 (EPA)=Union Government can designate an area as “ecologically sensitive zone” and then Government can prohibit/regulate Development in this region.
- Using this power, many ecologically sensitive zone have been setup.
- E.g. Mahabaleshwar-Panchgani region in Mahrashtra.
- But all of them face common problems:
- Over bureaucratization =corruption. For example a farmer would need to pay bribe get clearance to dig well/bore in his own farm.
- little or no meaningful participation by the local community.
- The Western Ghats has thousands of endemic species of flowering plants, fish, frogs, birds and mammals.
- Therefore, entire Western Ghats should be designated as Ecologically sensitive zones.
- Gadgil recommends that entire Western Ghat should be divided into 3 zones (actually 4)
||Highest protection must be given to them|
||Moderate control and protection.|
||Protected Areas= existing Wild Life Sanctuaries and National Parks.|
- final demarcation of the Zones should be done by Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA).
- And that too, after taking extensive inputs from local communities and local bodies, namely, Gram Panchayats, Taluka Panchayats, Zilla Parishads, and Nagarpalikas
- Madhav Gadgil Panel recommended for this.
- WGEA will have jurisdiction over the Western Ghat districts in six states (Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu).
- WGEA will be a statutory authority appointed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
|Western Ghats Ecology Authority||Union|
|State Western Ghats Ecology Authorities||In 6 states|
|District Ecology Committee||In districts under Western Ghat|
- Chairman – A retired judge of the Supreme Court, preferably from the Western Ghats region.
- Experts from biology, law, science, sociology etc.
- Representative from tribal group.
- Civil society representatives.
- conservation, sustainable development and Eco restoration of the Western Ghats
- Environmental Impact Analysis and Clearance process in Western Ghats.
- Its recommendations will be ordinarily binding. (just like National Board of Wildlife whose decisions are rarely tampered with and by and large have been approved even by the Supreme Court of India.)
- WEGA will decide location of industry, land use planning in Western Ghats.
- Prevent activity having negative environmental, social and ecological impact on Western Ghats.
- Can issue directions to the state government or agencies to prevent any negative impacts on the Western Ghats.
- Authority shall also be the final authority for demarcating the areas under the Ecologically Sensitive Zones #1, 2 and 3.
- Power to levy fines and other punitive measures
- Right to call for files, records, evidences etc. under Civil Procedure Code.
As we saw earlier: Gadgil recommended Western Ghats to be divided into three ecologically sensitive zones. Here they’re:
|Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ)|
|Zone #1||Zone #2||Zone #3|
|Mining||Donot give new licenses for mining.||
|Where mining exists, it should be phased out in 5 years.||Existing mines should be under strict regulation and social audit.|
|Polluting Industry (Red/Orange)||Donot allow new industries.Exisiting industries must switch to zero pollution by 2016 else close them down.||Allow new industries but with strict regulation + social audit.|
|Non polluting industry (green/blue)||Allow but with strict regulation + social audit|
|River projects/dams||No river projects higher than 3 meters.||Not higher than 15m||Any height allowed but with detailed environmental impact assessment.|
|Power plants||Donot allow new power plants.||Existing= with strict regulation + social audit.New plants=only if they’ve zero pollution.|
||Allowed but only with strict regulation + social audit.|
|Tourism||waste management, traffic, water and energy use=strictly regulate. (recall Tiger tourism article).|
|Sci-Tech and IT||
Ok everything sounds well and good with Gadgil’s report, then why is there a controversy? We’ll see that in fourth and last article of this series.