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RELATEDKEYWORDS:Western-Ghats | MOEF | Draft-Notification | Awaaz- Foundation | Awaaz
‘Draft notification opens Western Ghats to development’
TNN | May 7, 2014, 11.57PM IST
MUMBAI: Environmental NGO Awaaz Foundation has pointed out several problems in a draft notification on the Western Ghats issued by the ministry of environment & forests (MoEF) earlier this year.
The NGO, which had earlier petitioned the HC to declare the Sawantwadi-Dodamarg elephant corridor in Maharashtra an ecologically sensitive region, has filed a list of suggestions and objections with MoEF over the new draft notification.
"The draft notification leaves out Dodamarg and allows townships and harmful industries in ecologically sensitive areas," says Awaaz founder Sumaira Abdulali.
The objections red-flag the manner in which the draft notification reduces the area that needs to be protected from development and allows for slow encroachment of eco-sensitive zones. In Kerala, for instance, it will lead to the reduction of ecologically sensitive areas by 3,000 sq km, says Awaaz.
The NGO has spoken out against the diversion of forest land for any other purpose in an ecologically sensitive area. It has criticised the fact that the draft notification bans new industries in eco-zones, but does not mention shutting down existing industries.
Awaaz has opposed a section that permits the construction of building projects of up to 20,000 sq m built-up area and allows the development of new townships and expansion of existing townships up to an area of 1.5 lakh sq m.
It has objected to the monitoring of development projects being left with states. "Local politicians of state governments are often personally involved in projects that destroy biodiversity, such as mining, industries and (development of) townships. They are often also the centre of mafias that...harass those who 'interfere' in their illegal activities and have even murdered activists.... A monitoring mechanism reporting directly to MoEF needs to be set up to regulate activities in ESAs," says Awaaz.
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Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Wildlife Corridor
has been protected by an Order of the Court in Awaaz Foundation's public interest litigation.