Experts allay fears on Western Ghats notification

The recent government notification on the extent and geographical composition of Western Ghats has given rise to suspicion that it may slow down development activities in Karwar and Malnad areas.

The notification, widely felt to be lacking in clarity and focus, has also caused apprehension in the area that it was meant for helping only big time real estate developers.

The February 5 notification being circulated in nine districts, Dakshina Kannada, Udupi, Uttara Kannada, Shimoga, Chikmagalur, Kodagu, Hassan, Mysore and Chamarajanagar indicates, said 59 taluks and 228 hoblis of these districts were under the Western Ghats. “We do not know why the notification was issued. We are discussing its implications on us and try to get a clarification on the issue from the government,” said Ramanikanth Nayak, a member of the Hassan district small industries association.

Following the notification, traders, small industrialists, businessmen and developers were apprehensive that the government might demand that they to get clearance for every trade, industrial and business proposals. “Enquiries have been pouring into the offices of the chambers of commerce and industry in these nine districts seekingclarification on the notification. I have gone through the notification and found there is nothing to be worried about. But I don’t know the need for this notification at this time,” said BK Pai, an expert on Indian forest law.

The chairman of the Western Ghats task force Ananth Hegade Ashisara said that the notification was to protect theGhats. “There is a need to quantify and qualify the extent of Western Ghats in Karnataka, for redefining our developmental strategies in the area,”he assured.

Krishna J Palemar, minister for environment and ecology, meanwhile, admitted that the notification could have been more explicit. “There was a need for creating a roadmap for development in the towns and cities coming under the Western Ghats. The notification does not say anything about the special clearances required for setting up industries or businesses in this region,” he said.

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