Centre lifts ban on projects in Ratnagiri
THE UNION environment ministry has partially lifted the moratorium on development projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra. This was in response to the state government's request last October urging the Centre to remove talukas not falling in Western Ghats from the list of ecologically sensitive zones. The ministry had imposed a moratorium on environmental clearances of developmental projects, including power and mining, in five talukas of Ratnagiri and six talukas in Sindhudurg.
The ministry has now said that moratorium on new projects will continue only in those villages which were identified as eco-sensitive by the N Kasturirangan committee on Western Ghats, and in another 25 villages of Sindhudurg, which are under litigation in the Bombay High Court. The 25 villages are listed in a case filed by non-profit Awaz foundation, which pleaded with the court to declare the iron ore-rich Sawantwadi-Dodamarg Corridor frequented by tigers an ecologically sensitive area. Village residents fear the eco-sensitive tag will hamper development.