Saturday, 17 January 2015

Daily News Mail

Western Ghat ecosystem Conservation

  • Western Ghat is one of the eight hottest hot-spots of biological diversity in the world and it has been included in the UNESCO World Heritage List in 2012.
  • It has a rich ecological and biological diversity.
  • The Western Ghats, the Sahydri Mountain Ranges separates the Deccan Plateau from the narrow coastal plain along the Arabian sea. It starts south of the Tapi River in Gujarat and runs about 1600 km through the states of Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu ending at the southern tip of the Peninsular India, Kanyakumari.
  • There are 5000 species of flowering plants, 139 mammal species, 508 bird species and 179 amphibian species. Around 325 globally threatened species found in the Western Ghats.
  • Several protected areas in the region including 2 biosphere reserves, 13 national parks and several wildlife sanctuaries to protect endangered species of the region. The Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve (5500 sq. km.), the Bandipur National Park are such protected areas.

Steps to safeguard the ecosystem

Madhav Gadgil-led Western Ghats Ecology Expert panel :
  • Government of India constituted the Panel to advise the Government on how to protect Western Ghat from human intervention.
  • The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) has recommended that entire Western Ghats should be declared as an ecologically sensitive area.
  • It had suggested three level of categorisation where regulatory measures for protection would be imposed and had recommended the establishment of the Western Ghats Ecology Authority for management.
  • People started agitating against the report and declared it as anti-development and against farmer.

In August 2012, MoEF constituted the High Level Working Group (HLWG) headed by Dr. K. Kasturirangan to examine the large numbers of public responses received to the recommendations of the Gadgil report and to suggest the way ahead. 

Kasturirangan led High Level Working Group
  • The HLWG report draws upon the basic framework suggested by WGEEP to use remote sensing technologies to demarcate the ecologically sensitive areas of the Western Ghats. It used satellite data, down to 24 m resolution, as against 9 km used by WGEEP.
  • It distinguishes between the cultural and the natural landscape of the region. Using remote sensing technology, it has found that the cultural landscape – which includes human settlements, agricultural fields and plantations -- covers 58.44% of the region. The natural landscape ranges over the remaining 41.56%.
  • Its conclusion, based on this methodology, is that roughly 37% of the total area(90% of natural landscape) defined as the boundary of the Western Ghats is ecologically sensitive. Over this area of some 60,000 sq km, spread over the states of Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the HLWG has recommended a prohibitory regime on those activities with maximum interventionist and destructive impact on the environment.
The recommendations of the Kasturirangan report are undemocratic and anti-environmental, said V.S. Vijayan, member of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP).He said the Kasturirangan report will pave the way for exploitation of ecologically-sensitive Western Ghats by mafia groups. It gives an opportunity for mafias to exploit ecologically sensitive areas of the Western Ghats. He said the Madhav Gadgil report on Western Ghats was meant to promote sustainable development.

Government's stand
  • The government has already clarified it was “not processing” Madhav Gadgil’s Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) report for any further action.The HLWG report was a subsequent report to the WGEEP report and the Ministry was examining and further processing the HLWG report.
  •  the Ministry had constituted the HLWG on August 17, 2012 to examine the WGEEP report in a holistic and multidisciplinary fashion keeping in view the comments received from State governments concerned, Central ministries and stakeholders. The HLWG submitted its report on April 15, 2013. The Ministry issued a direction under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act,1986 on November 13, 2013 ordering immediate protection to the Western Ghats and maintaining its environmental integrity. A draft notification was published on March 10, 2014, declaring ecologically sensitive areas in the Western Ghats to which objections had been invited.
Ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ)
  • By the rules laid in the 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.
  • Environmentally Sensitive Zones may be defined as areas with identified environmental resources having “Incomparable Values” which require special attention for their conservation. The Ministry has already notified Ecologically–sensitive areas in respect of Matheran, Mahableshwar-Panchgani, Mount Abu, Sultanpur, Bandipur, Girnar, Narayan Sarovar, Purna, Vansda and River Bhagirathi from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. The Zonal Master Plan / Area Development Plan for all notified / to be notified environmentally sensitive areas would be prepared by the concerned State Governments as per the provisions of the said respective notifications involving local communities / experts and shall be approved by the Ministry for regulating development activities and protection and conservation of Entities of Incomparable Values. Monitoring Committees with representatives of Government, Experts and local representatives as per the notifications would be constituted to ensure compliance of approved Zonal Master Plans / Area Development Plan. Source - Annual report 2013-14, Ministry of Environment,Forest & Climate Change
Didn't you bother why have i explained all these facts ? - Just to let you understand today's news and the news is:
'Centre has the final say on eco-sensitive zones' - Siddaramaiah
  • Chief Minister Siddaramaiah on January 16 said that the State government will submit its response to the Kasturirangan Committee Report on ecologically sensitive area (ESA) zones of the Western Ghats .
  • The government has formed a subcommittee to elicit views from the general public and public representatives. This subcommittee would tour the Western Ghats region. Based on the report of the subcommittee, the government would submit its response to the Union government, Siddaramaiah said.
  • The concept of ESAs in the Western Ghats has been a contentious one from the start. Last year, the Kasturirangan report earmarked 59,940 sq.km (37%) of the Western Ghats as ESA. The MoEF outlined a draft notification based on this report on March 10, 2014, identifying a total of 56,825 sq.km in six States that straddle the Western Ghats. Karnataka represents the biggest chunk of the ESA.
  • The proposal to declare 20,668 sq.km of Karnataka’s Western Ghats as ESA has raised fears of relocation among local communities, although the report only recommends banning activities such as mining and thermal plants in these areas.

This year no Jallikattu in Pongal festival
  • Owing to the ban on Jalllikattu (bull fighting) from Supreme Court, the residents of several districts in Tamil Nadu did not have Jallikattu this year, for the first time in four decades.
  • The Supreme court has banned Jallikattu in May, 2014. The court had ruled that even bulls have right against torture.
  • Jallikattu is a bull taming sport played in Tamil Nadu as a part of Pongal celebrations.

Leela Samson quits as CBFC chief
  • An acclaimed Bharatnatyam dancer Leela Samson has resigned from the chief of Central Board of Film Certification (CBFC), while denying that her exit was linked to controversial film "MSG", which is ready for release after the Film Certification Appellate Tribunal (FCAT) gave it the green signal.
  • But she denied speculation that her departure was due to the clearance given by the FCAT - which hears appeals of applicants aggrieved by a CBFC order, for film certification - to Dera Saccha Sauda chief Gurmeet Ram Rahim Singh's film "MSG - The Messenger of God".
  • "MSG" was reportedly first rejected by the examining committee of the censor board and referred to the revising committee. When it too decided against clearing the film, it was referred to FCAT, which cleared it for release after asking producers to make minor changes.
  • Sect leader Gurmeet Ram Rahim, who is said to have around 50 million followers and has has been mired in a controversy since 2001, facing murder and rape cases in courts, told media in Gurgaon that there was nothing objectionable in his film.

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