New Delhi: Amid protests in Kerala over implementation of a controversial report on Western Ghats, eminent ecologist Madhav Gadgil yesterday alleged that 1700 illegal quarries were operating in the crestline of sensitive areas of the hills in the state.
The ecologist, who chaired the Western Ghats Ecology Expert Panel (WGEEP), made the remarks in the presence of Union Minister Jairam Ramesh at a function organised by Central University of Orissa, Koraput, to confer Degree of Doctor of Science (Honoris Causa) to him.
"People are very upset over the large number of stone quarries in Kerala. All across the crestline of the Western Ghats in Kerala, there are stone quarries and machines which crush stone into sand.
"Now, apparently there are 2700 quarries out of which 1700 are illegal. They have no licence from the collector, they have been denied permission to operate by the village panchayats.... but still they are operating," Gadgil, who has been travelling across the state to generate public opinion in favour of the report authored by his panel, said.
His statement came at a time when hilly areas of Kerala witnessed violent protest against the implementation of Kasturirangan panel report on Western Ghats--a diluted version of the original report prepared by WGEEP headed by Gadgil.
Gadgil, who is unhappy with the suggestions made by the Kasturirangan panel, said that had the government taken his panel's report seriously, such a situation would not have been created in Kerala.
He said that a section had even tried to make sure that people did not come to know about what is in the report prepared by WGEEP.
"Our foremost recommendation of the report was that it should be immediately translated in local languages and it should be taken to the all the gram sabhas in the Western Ghats to let them debate this and based on the feed back all decisions should be taken. But it did not happen," he said.
The report came to light after the Delhi High Court upheld a Central Information Commission (CIC) order to make it public by publishing it on the Environment Ministry's website last year.