March 1, 2012 1:12:15 am
The Bombay High Court on Wednesday asked the state government to disclose its stand on the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report. The court had earlier said the report must be made public. The state government has been asked to file an affidavit by March 12.
The WGEEP report pertaining to the ecosystem of the western ghats was prepared by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in 2010. The report covers the 35-km narrow strip of Sawantwadi-Dodamarg corridor that consists of 30 villages.
The region forms an important part of the Sahyadri-Konkan wildlife corridor that connects the Koyna and Radhanagari wildlife sanctuaries and Chandoli national park in Maharashtra with the wildlife sanctuaries and national parks in Goa and Karnataka.
A PIL filed by the Awaaz Foundation had urged the court to declare the area an eco-sensitive zone to protect the bio-diversity in the region from development and mining activities.
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The NGO contended that they were not against environmental-friendly development and tourism,but this corridor facilitates movement of wild animals such as elephants and tigers.
Justice D D Sinha had earlier said,No doubt the report has to be made public. There is no secret here as the public has to know about it.
According to a communication sent by the MoEF to the state government,the secretary to the ministry had convened a meeting with principal secretaries (environment ministry) of six state governments to know their views on the report.
The MoEF had sought responses from Chief Ministers of Maharashtra,Tamil Nadu,Kerala,Karnataka,Goa and Gujarat. It has said it would not be able to arrive at a final decision,about the implementation of the report,unless the state governments convey their views in the matter. According to the petitioners,the Maharashtra government has already communicated its take in the case to the MoEF.
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