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Gadgil panel report, a road map for Western Ghats conservation: Jairam

Hopes report will be debated once Lok Sabha election is over

Jairam Ramesh
Jairam Ramesh
Union Rural Development Minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday described the Gadgil panel report on the Western Ghats as the “road map” for conservation of the ecologically-sensitive hills and hoped it would be resurrected for a “dispassionate debate” once the heat and dust of the next Lok Sabha election settled.

Speaking at a function here to present a Degree of Doctor (Honoris Causa) — conferred by the Central University of Orissa, Koraput — to Prof. Madhav Gadgil, the Minister said the report was put aside without a proper public debate. Whatever little debate there was, he added, was “hijacked by a few political voices who had a vested interest.”
On Friday, the new Environment & Forests Minister M. Veerappa Moily decided to put on hold the final notification of the Ecologically Sensitive Area, covering 59,940 square km, of the hills to elicit comments of Chief Ministers of the six affected States on the recommendations of the High-Level Working Group on the Western Ghats chaired by K. Kasturirangan.
Prof. Gadgil, who has gone on record to criticise the Kasturirangan report, was appointed by Mr. Ramesh during his stint at the Environment & Forests Ministry to head the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel to assess the status of the Ghats and demarcate areas to be notified as ecologically sensitive.
Hailing Prof. Gadgil as a “Gandhian” and an “Arvind Kejriwal long before we had discovered Kejriwal,” the Minister said: “I still feel that the Gadgil panel report is the road map, the blueprint. It is not the last word. It should be discussed at gram panchayats, zilla parishads, vidhan sabhas.”
Referring to the controversy the two reports generated — particularly in Kerala that saw violence over the issue — Mr. Ramesh said much of the apprehensions that stemmed from ignorance and deliberate/mischievous misreading of the recommendations. “Had we been more open and more proactive, perhaps much of this confusion could have been avoided.”
According to the Minister, the purpose of setting up the Gadgil panel was to draw up a road map for ecological sustainability consistent with the needs of livelihood security and economic growth to meet aspirations of the people, particularly the youth.

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