23 March 2023 9:41 AM GMT
Recently the Supreme Court bench comprising CJI D.Y Chandrachud, Justice P.S Narasimha, and Justice J.B Pardiwala passed an order directing the Central government to file a counter affidavit within four weeks in the matter concerning the protection of the Western Ghats.The matter will be next posted on July 25, 2023.About the case In 2019, a writ petition was filed by several individuals...
Recently the Supreme Court bench comprising CJI D.Y Chandrachud, Justice P.S Narasimha, and Justice J.B Pardiwala passed an order directing the Central government to file a counter affidavit within four weeks in the matter concerning the protection of the Western Ghats.
The matter will be next posted on July 25, 2023.
About the case
In 2019, a writ petition was filed by several individuals and organizations from Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu, expressing concerns about the deforestation and destruction in the Western Ghats, where they are situated
The petitioners claim that the Central Government and the governments of the six states where the Western Ghats are located have utterly neglected their responsibility to safeguard the region, resulting in its gradual destruction.
“The protection of the Western Ghats has a direct impact on the right to life and livelihood protected under Article 21 of the Constitution. Furthermore, as the Western Ghats is a continuous living chain of mountains which passes through six states, it requires the involvement of all six state governments, and relevant regulatory agencies in these states, along with Central Government ministries,”states the petitioner.
In 2020, the Supreme Court issued a notice to the Centre and Environment Ministry
It is stated in the petition that the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) had set up the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) in 2010 and the High Level Working Group (HLWG) in 2012.
WGEEP identified 1,29,037 sq. km. of the Western Ghats as part of it and suggested activities to be allowed or prohibited in Eco-Sensitive Zones 1, 2, and 3. HLWG recommended protecting only 37% of the area, which is 59,940 sq. km.
The Central Government has accepted the HLWG's report but has only issued Section directions under Section 5 of Environment Protection Act,1986(EPA) regulating activities in 56,825 sq. km. (reduced from 59,940 sq. km.) by an amendment dated 03.12.2018 after Kerala's recommendation without examination by MoEFCC.
72,212 sq. km. identified by WGEEP as the Western Ghats have been excluded from legal protection.
The Central Government has issued several draft notifications since 2014 declaring 56,825 sq. km. as an Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA), but no final notification has been issued.
The latest draft (issued on 03.10.2018) does not follow the recommendations of the WGEEP for a holistic approach for conservation of the Western Ghats. The current criteria for demarcation breaks up the area into patches, which is not sustainable for long-term protection, the petition states.
The petitioners sought to put a stay on the amendment dated 03.12.2018 and quash the directions issued under Section 5 of EPA, as they are arbitrary and only seek to protect 56,825 sq. km.
The petitioners have also requested the court to issue necessary directions to the Central Government and concerned authorities, urging them to take urgent action to protect the entire Western Ghats and prevent any further destruction.
The matter will now be taken up on 25 July 2023.
Case title -M. Kaviya & ors. v. UOI & ors.
Counsel for Petitioners-Sr. Adv. Raj Panjwani and AOR Shibani Ghosh
Click Here To Read/Download Order