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Supreme Court ordered Center to respond to a request for protection of Western Ghats

Last Updated on March 27, 2023 by Administrator

The Central government has been ordered to file a reply affidavit in the case involving the protection of the Western Ghats within four weeks, according to a recent ruling from the Supreme Court bench consisting of Chief Justice D.Y. Chandrachud, Judge P.S. Narasimha, and Justice J.B. Pardiwala.

Background of the case

According to the petition, the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) established the High Level Working Group (HLWG) in 2012 and the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) in 2010. The Western Ghats make up 1,29,037 sq. km. of this region, and WGEEP advised activities that should be permitted or restricted in Eco-Sensitive Zones 1, 2, and 3. Only 37% of the region—59,940 sq km—should be protected, according to HLWG.

The Central Government has accepted the HLWG’s report, but it has only issued Section Directions under Section 5 of the Environment Protection Act of 1986 (EPA) regulating activities in 56,825 sq. km. (reduced from 59,940 sq. km.) as a result of Kerala’s recommendation, without having them reviewed by the MoEFCC. Since 2014, the Central Government has published a number of draft notifications designating 56,825 sq. km. as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA), but no official notification has been published. The most recent draft (released on October 3, 2018) does not adhere to the WGEEP’s suggestions for a comprehensive strategy for Western Ghats conservation. The petition claims that the current standards for demarcation divide the land into patches, which is not feasible for long-term conservation. The petitioners argued that the EPA’s Section 5 directions are arbitrary and solely seek to safeguard 56,825 square kilometers, thus they sought to halt the revision that was made on December 3, 2018, and to invalidate them.

The Hearing

Concerned about the devastation and deforestation in the Western Ghats, where they are located, various people and groups from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu filed a writ suit in 2019.

The Western Ghats have allegedly been slowly destroyed as a result of the Central Government and the six state governments that make up the region’s boundaries completely abdicating their duty to protect it, according to the petitioners.”The right to life and a means of subsistence guaranteed by Article 21 of the Constitution is directly impacted by the protection of the Western Ghats. Additionally, because the Western Ghats is a continuous, living chain of mountains that crosses six states, it necessitates the engagement of the governments of all six of those states, as well as any pertinent regulatory bodies, and central government ministries, according to the petitioner.

The subject will now be discussed on July 25, 2023.

Case Title: M. Kaviya and ors vs. UOI and ors.

Written by: Srijan Raj

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