Centre slices BNP ESZ, shrinks buffer zone

Centre slices BNP ESZ, shrinks buffer zone

ESZ around Bannerghatta National Park

Disregarding objections from conservationists and BJP MPs from Bengaluru, the Centre has reduced the Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) around the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) to 168.84 sq km and shrunk the buffer zone by 100 sq km.

Notifying the fresh extent of ESZ around BNP, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Wednesday stated: “The ESZ shall be to an extent of 100 meters to 1.0 km around the boundary of the BNP and the area of the ESZ is 168.84 sq km.”

In an notification issued in 2016, the MoEF&CC had notified an area of 268.9 sq km as the ESZ around BNP.

Conservationists said the 2016 notification was allowed to lapse deliberately due to the state government’s stiff opposition as it did not submit its views sought by the Centre.  

Rajya Sabha MP from Bengaluru Rajeev Chandrasekhar had in fact written to Chief Minister B S Yediyurappa on Wednesday, urging him not to reduce the ESZ area around BNP. Earlier, BJP parliamentarian from Bangalore South Tejasvi Surya and Bangalore Central parliamentarian P C Mohan had also spoken against the reduction of ESZ around BNP.

Yediyurappa had written a detailed letter to the environment minister Prakash Javadekar last month to speed up issuing the notification, contending that the delay was affecting developmental activities.

The notification bans commercial mining, stone quarrying and setting up stone crushing units within the ESZ.

Environmentalists had petitioned the government to finalise an ESZ for Bannerghatta to stop illegal mining and quarrying outside the park for several years.

Throwing light on the issue of ESZ around Bannerghatta, DH had published an Insight story ‘Reduction of Bannerghatta ESZ, for whose benefit?’ in its edition dated December 15, 2018. The first effort to create a legally protected buffer zone around Bannerghatta came in 2016 when the central ministry issued a draft notification declaring 268.9 sq km outside the park (the width varying between 100 metres and 4.5 km) as the ESZ. In May 2018, the state forest department sent a fresh draft ESZ proposal, which was the basis for the new draft notification issued by the Centre in October.