Gadgil panel report best roadmap for Western Ghats, says Ramesh

Written by Press Trust of India | New Delhi | Updated: Dec 30 2013, 08:56am hrs
Rural development minister Jairam Ramesh on Sunday said that the Madhav Gadgil report on the Western Ghats was the roadmap for conservation of the ecologically-sensitive hills and expressed hope that there would be a dispassionate debate on the issue once Lok Sabha elections were over.

The ministers statement comes at a time when the environment ministry is seeking a way to implement a much-diluted version of the Gadgil Committee report.

Ramesh had three years ago appointed the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP) during his tenure as the environment minister to draw up a roadmap for preserving the biodiversity of the ecologically-sensitive hills. The panel was headed by Gadgil.

Speaking at a function here to present a Degree of Doctor (Honoris Causa) to Gadgil, conferred by the Central University of Orissa, Koraput, Ramesh lamented that a public debate on the report had not taken place and it was hijacked by a few political voices who had a vested interest.

He said that the whole idea behind appointing the Gadgil panel was of the environment ministry not issuing a fatwa on the Western Ghats once it got the recommendations.

That public debate did not take place. The public debate was hijacked by a few political voices who had vested interests... I feel that once the elections are over... by June, July next year, there would be a calm and dispassionate debate on the Gadgil Committee report at various levels, he said.

Hailing Gadgil as a Gandhian and an (Arvind) Kejriwal long before we had discovered Kejriwal, Ramesh said, I still feel that the Gadgil panel report is the roadmap, the blueprint. It is not the last word. It should be discussed at Gram Panchayats, Zilla Parishads, Vidhan Sabhas.

He said that a large part of the concerns over the Gadgil Committee report were borne out of ignorance and deliberate and mischievous misreading of its recommendations. Ramesh said that he supported the methodology adopted by the Gadgil panel in preparing the report.

What the conclusions are could be different but the methodology is participative and it is democratic and we must initiate this process of debate and discussion and not allow the debate on the Gadgil Committee report to be hijacked by the sand mafia or the mining mafia or the construction mafia, he said.