Environment Minister to meet Western Ghat MPs over ecology

New Delhi: Union Environment Minister Anil Dave on Tuesday said he will meet 60 parliamentarians from states in the Western Ghat region following Kasturirangan Committee recommendations on declaring certain areas as ecologically sensitive areas. "I will meet all MPs from states in Western Ghat region before August 12. We have more than 60 MPs from this region. I have requested all the members to raise their concern," Dave told the Lok Sabha during question hour. He was answering supplementary questions from the members. Kodikunnil Suresh of the Congress said: "The Kasturirangan Committee report recommended that only 37 per cent of the Western Ghats is to be declared as ecologically sensitive as compared to 97 per cent recommended by the Gadgil Committee report earlier". The Congress member also said the Western Ghats are the "treasure house of flora and fauna" and that states like Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu "depend a lot on the Western Ghats and its virgin ecosystem. Dave said there was a need to avoid conflict between nature, humans and animals. "It is true when human beings and animals come into contact with each other, there is a conflict," he said. However, the minister said such contacts and conflicts were like "grey areas" as due to efforts by the government, the number of wild animals have increased. But the human encroachment around animal habitats was also responsible for the situation, he added. The government has put in place several measures to ensure that interventions and activities in forest areas do not adversely affect the biodiversity, he said.  Dave maintained that increasing agricultural activities in and around forest areas also attract animals. Among others A.R. Vanaroja of the AIADMK expressed concern over growing incidents of wild animals coming out of forest into the plains. "This has become a regular phenomenon in the country. Even a few days back, there was a news that a tiger along with its cub entered into a village and settled there," she said. To this, Dave said steps are being taken by the government to ensure that animals are not forced to come out of their habitats frequently. Arrangements like ensuring adequate drinking water for the animals are also being made.