Ecology Authority for Western Ghats assault on state's power: Jayalalithaa
Chennai, March 15 : Tamil Nadu Chief Minister J. Jayalaltihaa Friday termed the central government's proposal to set up Western Ghats Ecology Authority (WGEA) at the national level with regulatory powers as an assault on the state's powers.
She said the centre sought to create another redundant super body seeking to perform functions of state institutions.
In a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, the chief minister said: "I would like to state emphatically that the creation of the said authority is a gross assault on the powers of state governments to administer ecologically sensitive areas situated within their own geographical boundaries in the name of environmental scrutiny".
Citing the subject land listed under the state list of the constitution, she said: "Any attempt by the government of India to assume powers to regulate policy with regard to land use, developmental activities under various sectors and power to approve new projects, etc., and issue directions in the name of environment is uncalled for and can only be viewed as an encroachment on the sovereign powers of the state governments".
According to Jayalalithaa, the Union Minister of State (Independent Charge) for Environment and Forests (Jayanthi Natarajan) sought the state government's views on the report of the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) which also recommends setting up of WGEA with regulatory powers for approval of new projects and to issue directions to state governments among other things.
Jayalalithaa also stressed the fact that WGEEP report has "...no materials to make out any case for any shortcoming in the conservation of the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu".
She said the WGEA would erode the authority of the state government and create an unnecessary layer of authority in the name of conservation and the detailed views of the state on the recommendations of the WGEEP were being sent separately by the Environment and Forests Department to the high-level working group headed by K. Kasturirangan.