Keep eco-sensitive zone of 1 km around forests: SC
Ecology and Environment
14th Jun, 2022
The Supreme Court recently directed that every protected forest, national park and wildlife sanctuary across the country should have a mandatory eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of a minimum one km starting from their demarcated boundaries.
Key remarks of Supreme Court:
- The role of the State is more relevant today, than, possibly, at any point of time in history with the threat of climate catastrophe resulting from global warming looming large
- The State has to act as a trustee for the benefit of the general public in relation to the natural resources so that sustainable development could be achieved in the long term.
- The court directed that “mining within the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries shall not be permitted”.
- The court held that in case any national park or protected forest already has a buffer zone extending beyond one km, which would prevail.
- The Principal Chief Conservator for each State and the Union Territory has also been directed to make a list of subsisting structures within the ESZs and submit reports to the apex court in three months.
- The Eco Sensitive Zones are envisaged as a cushion or shock absorbers for protected areas.
- They are supposed to act as the transition zones from areas of high protection to less protection.
- They are notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- They are like an ecotone- the transition between two biological communities or ecosystems, and it is crucial for the protection of protected areas like wildlife sanctuaries and forests.
- Its aim is to reduce the impact of human intervention in the core protected area.
ESZ Guidelines classify activities under three categories:
- Prohibited: Commercial Mining, Setting of Saw Mill, Setting of industries causing pollution, establishment of major hydroelectric projects etc.
- Regulated: Felling of Trees, Establishment of hotels and resorts, erection of electrical cables, drastic change of agricultural systems etc.
- Permitted: Ongoing agriculture and horticulture practices by local communities, rain water harvesting, organic farming etc.