Agriculture, plantations allowed along Western Ghats

New Delhi, Dec 20 : The union environment ministry Friday allowed agriculture and plantation activities along the Western Ghats which had been banned through an order last month.

"The earlier OM (office memorandum)...dated Nov 16, 2013 regarding 'in principle' acceptance of high level working group report on Western Ghats stands withdrawn," the environment ministry said in an official note.

The ministry however maintained that the ban on activities, including mining, quarrying, sand mining, thermal power plants, building and construction projects of 20,000 square m area and above and township and area development projects or with built up area of 1,50,000 square m and above will continue.

It said the recommendations also do not prohibit or restrict any normal activities relating to plantations, agriculture or any other activity except those which have been specifically prohibited or restricted.

The ministry, which had clamped the ban on the basis of the Kasturirangan panel report on the Western Ghats on Nov 16, said: "Relevant steps would be initiated to operationalise the recommendations" of the high level working group.

A high level committee of the ministry will be set up to monitor the implementation of the recommendations of the working group in a time bound manner, it said.

The recommendations given by the Kasturirangan panel neither put any fresh restrictions on land use nor do they in any way impact the continued occupation of land in possession of the local people and affect their day to day activities or normal livelihood, it added.

The ministry's decision came after widespread protests in Kerala by various religious groups and political parties against the notification of the report.

--IANS (Posted on 20-12-2013)

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