Maharashtra State government has come out in strong opposition against the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel’s report, headed by Dr. Madhav Gadgil, on the Sahyadris’ heritage sites development and its effect on its environment. 

Chief Minister Prithviraj Chauhan contested the Gadgil Report saying that implementation of the report would put a negative impact on all four districts in Konkan. He argued that it shall have an adverse effect on the businesses in all the 50 talukas under the region. He opposed the implementation in very strong words, citing that it would create a socio-economic imbalance in the region.

The silent but escalating conflict between the state and the Panel with regard to the saw an immediate requirement of an intervention by the Centre and it is in this regard that the latter deputed a committee of experts under chairmanship of Dr. Kasturi Rangan. And it was here, when this Committee met with the state government officials at Sahyadri Guesthouse in Mumbai to know the State’s views and opinions on treatment to be meted out to the Western Ghats, that the State ruled out the Gadgil Report as ‘harmful & erroneous’.

Vehemently denying the report’s observations and applicable amendments, the State argued that enacting the Report’s propositions would lead to locals going homeless as they wouldn’t be able to build their homes in the region. For, once implemented, the directive would see to it that not a single stone or chunk of soil is utilised by anyone without prior permission. Minister of State Bhaskar Jadhav showed his dissent over this issue and said that he was against placing such restrictions on Konkan. Similarly, State Water Conservation Minister Sunil Tatkare opposed the Gadgil Committee Report on grounds that it would only act as a deterrant to progress in quality living in the said region, adding that the Centre must reject the Gadgil Report thus.

Responding to this request, the chief of the Central Government-led committee K. Kasturi Rangan is said to have informed the state that the Gadgil Committee had approached the Centre with their report but the latter had not accepted it.  The Committee has assured to address all concerns related to social life, livelihood and progressiveness of the people coming under this region. The Committee also assured the State that their analysis in the report would be such that it wouldn’t impact unfavourably.

But with 39 sites earmarked as World Heritage sites by United Nation’s Education, Scientific & Cultural Organisation (UNESCO) in July this year, the state government has gotten itself into a fix. Because, even if the state and the Centre continue to ignore the Gadgil Report and not take any measures, the international body of UNESCO will anyway put a tab on every activity in these areas, leaving the state in no position to mandate.



Thus leaving the following questions unanswered  --

What do the Konkani locals want?
What are the environmentalists saying?
Who are the Stake Holders - a) Mining barons b) Tourism Industry c) Private land owners and/or d) Mango Cultivators?


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