The Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) also informed the bench of NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar and judicial member Justice UD Salvi that the draft notification for declaration of the ecologically sensitive area of Western Ghats, as identified by Kasturirangan panel, is under finalization.
    
The ministry contended that after its in-principle acceptance of the recommendations of the Kasturirangan panel, also referred to as the High Level Working Group (HLWG), it "issued directions under the Environment Protection Act on November 13, 2013, prohibiting certain and/or expansion projects and activities to provide immediate protection to the Western Ghats and maintain its environmental integrity".

The projects or activities that have been prohibited are mining, quarrying and sand mining, thermal power plants, construction projects of 20,000 square meter area and above, red category of industries, etc.

The MoEF has clarified that no fresh cases of such projects will be considered for clearance, except those which were pending prior to upload of HLWG report on the ministry's website i.e before April 17, 2013.

The ministry also submitted that it lifted the moratorium imposed on projects in Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg districts of Maharashtra as the HLWG in its report had recommended the same.
    
The submissions were made in a fresh affidavit filed by the ministry after the NGT on November 12, 2013, had observed that the government's acceptance of HLWG's recommendations is silent on various aspects and had directed the MoEF to file an appropriate affidavit.

(Agencies)

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