Western Ghats Current Affairs - 2019

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Two new plant species discovered in Western Ghats

Two new plant species were discovered in Edmalayalar, Pooyamkutty-Adamalayar and Neriamangalam forest regions of Western Ghats in Ernakulam district of Kerala.

The discovered species have been christened as Vellithumpa and Eriocaulon manoharanii.

They were discovered by a team of researchers led by Professor C.N. Sunil during investigations conducted as part of a UGC-sponsored project on the flowering plants.

Vellithumpa (Anisochilus shoolamudianus)

  • It is a very rare species of shrub plant belonging to the mint family. It was discovered growing on steep wet rocks on Shoolamudy peak in deep inside the Edmalayalar forest range.
  • The species was named after the place of collection and was given vernacular name Vellithumpa (mean’s silver flower) as it has white silvery hairs under the leaves and bears small white flowers with red anthers in cylindrical closely packed clusters.

Eriocaulon manoharanii

  • It is herbaceous plant belonging to the pipeworts family. It was found discovered in the wet rocky mountain grasslands of Mamalakandam-Munippara area in the Neriamangalam forest range.
  • The species was named after T.M. Manoharan, former Principal Chief Conservator of Forests in recognition of his contributions to wildlife protection and biodiversity conservation.
  • The plant bears small white flowers which grows in clusters and has patchy distribution which gives scenic beauty to the valleys and grasslands.

MoEFCC holds meeting with 6 states to review ESA demarcation progess in Western Ghats

Union Ministry of Environment, Forests & Climate Change (MoEFCC) held a meeting with 6 states in New Delhi to review the progress of demarcation of Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESA) along the Western Ghats region.

The crucial meeting discussed the progress made by states to physically demarcate ESA in this region in order to decide the further course of action in the ambit of recommendations made by Kasturirangan Committee report (2013).

The meeting was chaired by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar and was attained by environment Ministers of six States viz. Tamil Nadu, Kerala, Karnataka, Goa, Maharashtra and Gujarat.

Key facts of meeting

  • No final decision was taken in this meeting as it will be taken by end of August 2015.
  • Focus: To set policy guidelines to conserve the biodiversity of the Western Ghats region.
  • Provide adequate opportunities for livelihood security to the local people in the broad paradigm of ESA.
  • Positive promotion of environment friendly and socially inclusive development in this region.

Earlier, MoEFCC on the request of these six States had allowed them to the demarcation of ESA within their jurisdiction by physical verification in the Western Ghats region. States were asked to submit their proposals to the Ministry by 30 June 2015. However, Kerala is only state which had undertaken such an exercise and submitted its report.

It should be noted that only in those areas demarcated as ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) in ESA, commercial mining and polluting industries will be completely banned.

Facts: Kasturirangan committee had recommended that about 37 per cent areas in the Western Ghats to be declared as an ESA, surpassing the recommendation of Madhav Gadgil report (2010). Madhav Gadgil report had recommended declaration of entire Western Ghats region as an ESA.