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Rajasthan’s Tal Chhapar sanctuary gets protection cover

  • Category
    Ecology and Environment
  • Published
    23rd Dec, 2022

Context

The famous Tal Chhapar blackbuck sanctuary in Rajasthan’s Churu district has received a protective cover against a proposed move of the State government to reduce the size of its eco-sensitive zone.

The matter:

  • Tal Chhapar’s area was going to be reduced to three sq. km. under pressure from mine owners and stone crusher operators.
  • To protect the sanctuary, the Rajasthan High Court ordered a “complete prohibition” on any action to reduce the wildlife sanctuary’s area.
  • The court directed to complete the formalities for the declaration of the eco-sensitive zone surrounding Tal Chhapar at the earliest.

The Tal Chhapar Sanctuary:

  • The Tal Chhapar Sanctuary is known as the home of blackbuck and a variety of birds in Rajasthan.
  • It is located in the Churu districtof Northwestern Rajasthan, in the Shekhawati region of India.
  • The sanctuary is flanked by the Great India Desert, Thar and boasts a unique ecosystem and is an important birdwatching destination in India.
  • Migratory birds in the sanctuary:Raptors, Harriers, eastern imperial eagles, tawny eagles, short-toed eagles, sparrows, and little green bee-eaters, black ibis and demoiselle cranes, whereas skylarks, crested larks, ring doves, and brown doves are seen round the year.
    • The raptors, which include predators and scavengers, are on top of the food chain and control the populations of small mammals, birds and reptiles as well as insects.

ESZ Guidelines classify activities under three categories:

  • Prohibited: Commercial Mining, Setting of Saw Mills, Setting of industries causing pollution, the 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: On-going agriculture and horticulture practices by local communities, rainwater harvesting, organic farming etc.
  • Fauna:Desert foxes and desert cats can be spotted in the sanctuary.

Eco-sensitive Zone (ESZs):

  • As per the National Wildlife Action Plan (2002-2016),issued by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, land within 10 km of the boundaries of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are to be notified as eco-fragile zones or Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ).
  • While the 10-km ruleis implemented as a general principle, the extent of its application can vary.
  • Areas beyond 10 km can also be notified by the Union government as ESZs, if they hold larger ecologically important sensitive corridors.”
  • The Eco-Sensitive Zones are envisaged as a cushion or shock absorbers for ‘protected areas’.

Threats:

  • increase in human population around the sanctuary
  • unplanned and rampant construction activities
  • Hyper-aridity
  • Grazing pressure
  • Invasive weed Prosopis juliflora
  • Salt mines in the vicinity
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