Environment & Ecology
In News: Protest is mounting in the hilly regions of Kerala against the Supreme Court direction that every protected forest tract and wildlife sanctuary must have an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of one kilometre from its boundaries.
- Political parties and farmers’ outfits in Kerala have been demanding that all human settlements be exempted from the ESZ.
- A three-judge bench of the apex court directed all states to leave a mandatory eco-sensitive zone of one kilometre from the boundaries of national parks, wildlife sanctuaries and other protected forest land.
- The court was considering public interest litigation for the protection of forest lands in the Nilgiris in Tamil Nadu.
- Later, the scope of the petition was enlarged to protect such natural resources throughout the country.
- The total extent of the wildlife sanctuaries in Kerala is eight lakh acres.
- If one km of ESZs is demarcated from their boundaries, around 4 lakh acres of human settlements, including farmlands, would come within that purview.
What are Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)?
- Eco-Sensitive Zones or Ecologically Fragile Areas are areas within 10 kms around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- ESZs are notified by MoEFCC, Government of India under Environment Protection Act
- In case of places with sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, even area beyond 10 km width can also be included in the eco-sensitive zone.
- The basic aim is to regulate certain activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries so as to minimise the negative impacts of such activities on the fragile ecosystem encompassing the protected areas.
Activities Allowed in ESZs
- Prohibited activities: Commercial mining, saw mills, industries causing pollution, establishment of major hydroelectric projects (HEP), commercial use of wood, Tourism activities like hot-air balloons over the National Park, discharge of effluents or any solid waste or production of hazardous substances.
- Regulated activities: Felling of trees, establishment of hotels and resorts, commercial use of natural water, erection of electrical cables, drastic change of agriculture system, e.g. adoption of heavy technology, pesticides etc, widening of roads.
- Permitted activities: Ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, use of renewable energy sources, adoption of green technology for all activities.
Source: Indian Express
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