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Rajasthan’s Tal Chhapar sanctuary gets protection cover

  • Published
    19th 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 district of 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.
  • 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 rule is 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’.

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.

Threats:

The issues confronting the sanctuary include:

  • 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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