Soiru velip | NT
Reiterating its stand on demarcation of villages as ecologically sensitive areas along the Western Ghats, the state government has proposed 19 villages from three talukas – Sattari, Sanguem and Dharbandora – for the inclusion as ESAs.
There has been no solution in sight on final demarcation of eco-sensitive areas coming under Western Ghats, which run through six states – Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka Kerala and Tamil Nadu.
The Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change has issued a third draft notification on February 28, 2017 extending deadline giving 60 days to the states to file their suggestions and objections.
The high-level working group under the chairmanship of Dr K Kasturirangan had prepared a report in 2014 in which 1461 sq.km in Goa had been identified as ecologically sensitive areas including 99 villages of three talukas – Sattari (56), Sanguem (38) and Canacona (3).
It must be noted here that in 2015 Dharbandora taluka was carved out and some villages from Sanguem taluka were included in the new taluka.
On the basis of the Kasturirangan report, the Union ministry had issued a draft notification on March 1, 2014 declaring ESAs in the Western Ghats except in Kerala, and had called for suggestions and objections of the interested persons/stakeholders on the proposal.
Goa had objected to the said draft notification saying the exercise required to be done de novo by accommodating local constraints and state’s concerns and making it confirm to the well-established factorial principles. Goa had sought withdrawal of all the office memoranda issued by the Union ministry including the March 1, 2014 draft notification.
Later, considering the objections raised by various states towards the said report and the ‘modified’ draft notification dated March 18, 2014, the Centre changed the tack granting an opportunity to the states located along the Western Ghats for undertaking an exercise to demarcate ESAs within their jurisdiction by physical verification and submission of proposals to the MoEFCC at the earliest by December 15, 2014.
Goa initiated the process accordingly through the department of environment and constituted three committees for four talukas on November 3, 2014, with the definite terms of reference.
As per state government’s physical demarcation, only 19 villages covering three talukas – Sattari (10), Sanguem (6) and Dharbandora (3) – can be included in their entirety as ESAs. Of the remaining villages, only those portions in proximity to protected areas, like wildlife sanctuaries, can be included as ESAs.
Accordingly, the recommendations submitted by the committees further examined by the state government in terms of the broad guidelines issued by the Union ministry and identified 19 villages as the ESAs in the Western Ghats region of Goa.
The latest draft notification, based on the report of the Kasturirangan panel, once again proposed to notify 56,825 sq.km areas as ESAs and ban mining, quarrying, sand mining, new thermal plants, red category industries and big townships.
In 2014, following demands from the six Western Ghats states the MoEFCC had allowed them to physically verify the ESAs as demarcated in the Kasturirangan report. All states, with the exception of Tamil Nadu, submitted their ground reports in 2015.
While confirming the submission of proposal to the Centre, Chief Minister Manohar Parrikar said the state government has reiterated its earlier stand.
The villages (measuring 249.26 sq.km) proposed by the state government to be identified as the ESAs include Anjunem, Gullelem, Sigonem, Caranzol, Quelauvadem, Vaiguinim, Zarani, Pendral, Siranguli and Dabem in Sattari taluka. Rubrem, Boma, Dongurili, Odxel, Salauli and Verlem have been identified in Sanguem taluka and Caranzol, Sounaulim and Moissal have been identified as ESAs in Dharbandora taluka.
The state government has also made some recommendation to the MoEFCC for consideration. It has recommended that before issuance of the final notification the ministry should issue draft of the notification for information of stakeholders. Besides, in respect of existing mining activities, the phase-out period may be specified as five years from the date of issue of the final notification or on expiry of the existing mining lease, whichever is earlier.
Furthermore, the state also recommended that sand extraction and quarries in small scale for local needs should be permitted in the ESAs so as to cater to the need of construction of roads and residential houses of locals so as to maintain continuity in road transport connectivity in the region.