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Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel submits report

The Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) which is being headed by ecologist Madhav Gadgil presented the summary report. It raises environmental concerns over the Sindhudurg and Ratnagiri regions of Maharashtra. In addition, the report also raises its voice in support of the rights of the inhabitants in this area. It strongly condemned the government's role. A Panel was constituted by the Ministry of Environment and Forest to study the impact of climate change on the Western Ghat region of India on 4 March 2010. It was responsible to study the impact of changing climatic condition for which the Panel brought out a preliminary summary report on the findings based on observations.  The focus was on ecologically sensitive areas and the role of the ‘development projects' there in.

Observatory remarks include lack of effective enforcement in environmental laws and laxity in many cases poses major threat to civil liberties. The ‘development' of the region was inequitable and unsustainable. The final report will be submitted to the Environment and Forests Ministry in March, 2011. Some of the major schemes promoted under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme did not exist anymore. For example the mango and cashew orchards promoted through the MGNREGS were nonexistent in the region. Moreover, the region was polluted with the harmful gasses in the region both in soil and air that threatens the sustainabilities of the cash crops in the region in long run.

Another finding of the report shows the severe human liberty and rights violated in the area. Though the people were actively involved in the process of development and nurturing the rich natural resources and heritage of Ratnagiri-Sindhudurg districts, their civil right of expression is being systematically suppressed.

The report also alleges that the Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) conducted by the government was flawed. The EIA is an important tool for deciding the acceptability of the environmental cost of various human interventions. Further, pointing out the failure of the local government, the report states that the Study Group at Lote near Chiplun district has met only twice, the last meeting being in 2008. There were toxic dumping in the area as the Common Effluent Treatment Plant at Chiplun could handle the quantity of effluent it is receiving, and its functioning is highly defective. People also complained on the solid toxic sludge from industries which was mixed with soil and dumped in the ghat area. 

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