Panaji, Dec 9: The Goa government has lambasted the union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) for trying to impose the findings of the K. Kasturirangan-led working group on the Western Ghats on the state administration.
In a letter addressed to Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jayanthi Natarajan, state Forest Minister Alina Saldanha said that the Kasturirangan group’s data was not authentic and did not reflect the ground realities in the area of the Western Ghats range located within Goa’s borders.
The former Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) chief had been roped in by the MoEF to head a 10-member high level working group to advise the central government on the recommendations made by the Madhav Gadgil-led experts panel on conservation in the Western Ghats.
The Western Ghats is a UNESCO-recognised natural heritage site comprising a contiguous forested mountain range which stretches from southern Gujarat to Kerala.
While the Gadgil report recommends stopping large scale economic activity and mining in the region, the Kasturirangan report opens up two thirds of the region for exploitation, at the same time recommending strict conservation in the remaining third of the Western Ghats region.
Saldanha has now accused the MoEF of pushing the Kasturirangan committee report findings down the Goa government’s throat, despite “strong reservations” expressed by the latter.
Saldanha has also accused the working group of not consulting the state government before submitting its recommendations about the Goa region of the Western Ghats to the central ministry.
“Such recommendations, which have serious social, economic and fiscal implications and which, in a manner of speaking, impinge on the authority of the state government, cannot be unilaterally arrived at without the state government accepting the same,” she said.