MoEF moratorium extended on Maha projects

Panaji: The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has once again extended, till December 2011, the moratorium imposed on the projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra, seeking environmental clearance under the environmental impact assessment (EIA) notification 2006.

MOEF advisor Nalini Bhat, in a notification issued on October 25, has said that the moratorium is extended because the ministry has received the report of the Western Ghat Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) which is now under consideration.

Both Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts fall in the range of Western Ghats. WGEEP, headed by renowned environmentalist Madhav Gadgil, has prepared a detailed report, which would be a roadmap for this eco-sensitive habitat.

Former Union Minister for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh had decided to impose moratorium till December 31, 2010, after locals complained to the ministry about clearing of power projects of over 33,000 MW in these districts.

The decision to impose the moratorium, was taken after receiving representations expressing concern about the environmental impact of the projects being proposed and those being implemented in the region.

The locals had also taken objection to various other projects like ports and ore mining leases. The Union ministry had referred the matter to WGEEP.

The moratorium was earlier extended till August 30, 2011, awaiting the report from Gadgil Committee, which was submitted last month.