KOCHI/THRISSUR: In a setback to the proposed Athirappilly hydro-electric project, the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), led by environmentalist Madhav Gadgil, on Tuesday recommended to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests against granting permission to carry out any construction activities at the sensitive Athirappilly-Vazhachal region.
The panel, which submitted its report to Union Environment Minister Jayanti Natarajan in the Capital on Tuesday, named Athirappilly as one of the 18 eco-sensitive localities (ESL) in the state.
“Based on the studies we identified 18 ESLs across Kerala. These are categorised as various zones according to its sensitivity. Athirappilly falls in the first zone, where no construction and similar activities are allowed,” former Environment Board chairman, V S Vijayan, who is a member of the panel, said.
The first part of WGEEP report was submitted to the Ministry on August 31. The report was prepared in a three-tier method. The first tier recommends declaring the entire Western Ghats as an ecologically sensitive area.
The second tier pointed out that the entire Western Ghats spread across Gujarat, Goa, Maharashtra, Karnataka, Tamil Nadu and Kerala should be divided as ecologically sensitive zones - ESZ 1, ESZ 2 and ESZ 3.
The areas that fall under ESZ1 should be protected as national parks and bird sanctuaries.
The third tier said about ecologically sensitive localities and 18 such localities were identified in Kerala.
The panel has put forward sectoral guidelines on the do’s and don’ts in three zones. The report recommends that genetically modified crops should not be allowed in Western Ghats.
Plastic and polythene covers in Western Ghats should be removed within three years. Pesticides and fertilisers should be phased out within 10 years.