public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Centre and the State government to constitute a permanent body for taking serious and practical steps to safeguard the flora, fauna and other natural resources in the Eastern and Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu. The case filed by DMK spokesperson K.S. Radhakrishnan, on the basis of the recommendations made by the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturi Rangan committees, has been listed for admission before the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad on Wednesday. According to the petitioner, the Western Ghats run to around 1.6 lakh sq km, from Kanniyakumari to Gujarat, spanning six different States in the country. The ghats were spread over 28,200 sq km in Tamil Nadu, 43,300 sq km in Karnataka, 58,400 sq km in Maharashtra, 1,075 sq km in Goa and 28,100 sq km in Kerala.


CHENNAI
PIL wants permanent body to preserve Eastern, Western Ghats

Mohamed Imranullah S.CHENNAI 11 MARCH 2020 01:35 ISTUPDATED: 11 MARCH 2020 01:36 IST


 
 
 
 
Litigant claims all steps taken so far remain only on paper
A public interest litigation petition has been filed in the Madras High Court seeking a direction to the Centre and the State government to constitute a permanent body for taking serious and practical steps to safeguard the flora, fauna and other natural resources in the Eastern and Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu.
The case filed by DMK spokesperson K.S. Radhakrishnan, on the basis of the recommendations made by the Madhav Gadgil and Kasturi Rangan committees, has been listed for admission before the first Division Bench of Chief Justice Amreshwar Pratap Sahi and Justice Subramonium Prasad on Wednesday.
According to the petitioner, the Western Ghats run to around 1.6 lakh sq km, from Kanniyakumari to Gujarat, spanning six different States in the country. The ghats were spread over 28,200 sq km in Tamil Nadu, 43,300 sq km in Karnataka, 58,400 sq km in Maharashtra, 1,075 sq km in Goa and 28,100 sq km in Kerala.
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“The natural resources abundantly available in this area are being properly utilised by other regions, except Tamil Nadu. The exceptional reasons are not germane but it may not be out of place to mention that the Western Ghats in Tamil Nadu are being misutilised and mismanaged not only by the administrators but also by the public at large,” he said.
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests had constituted the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel under the chairmanship of acclaimed ecologist Madhav Dhananjaya Gadgil, who submitted a report in 2011 followed by another report by the Kasturirangan committee. However, their recommendations were not implemented in letter and spirit, the litigant claimed.
He further pointed out that the Eastern Ghats run from northern Odisha to Tamil Nadu through Andhra Pradesh and Karnataka. Though not as high as the Western Ghats, the eastern ghats also boast of a wide list of sanctuaries, national parks, hills, rivers and waterfalls providing great natural aesthetics to the entire region.
Most reserve forest areas in these hills were protected by the Forest Department under the Tamil Nadu Forest Act of 1982 and Wildlife Protection Act of 1972. “The Tamil Nadu Hill Areas (Preservation of Trees) Act of 1955 is in force in certain parts of these hills but it is not implemented effectively in the absence of popular support.
“As a result, the protection of the trees in private holdings has become a challenge. By making use of the loopholes in the Act and other government rules, trees are felled and removed clandestinely. These activities have made the hills of the Eastern Ghats barren, its streams have run dry and the biodiversity is disappearing gradually.
“Large-scale plantations of coffee, tea and orchards have been raised in these hills. Aromatic and valuable trees like sandal are removed illegally. Despite the Wildlife Protection Act, hunting takes place in some pockets. The forests are getting degraded because of illicit collection of firewood, illicit grazing and illicit felling of trees,” he added.
Though various initiatives had been taken by the government to protect the ecology, all of them remain only on paper though the State had a constitutional duty under Article 48A to protect and improve the environment and to safeguard the forests and wildlife in the country, the petitioner said and sought for the intervention of the court.


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