'Nagarahole ESZ won't affect locals'

“Declaration of the eco-sensitive zone around Nagarhole National Park will not have any adverse impact on the day-to-day activities of the residents and their livelihood. The activities in the eco-sensitive zones would be of a regulatory nature rather than prohibitive nature,” Deputy Inspector General (Wildlife) Prakriti Srivastava said in an October 28 letter to N Krishnappa of Kodagu Zilla Panchayat.

While movement of commercial vehicles would be regulated at night, there would not be any restriction on the movement of personal vehicles of the locals.

The clarification from a Central official comes in the wake of sustained protests by local outfits including Codava National Council, who claimed that if the eco-sensitive zone is allowed to be formed, it would ruin their livelihood.

The Centre issued a notification identifying the ESZ covering 98 villages. The zone has been classified from zone-1 to zone-6. The government plan is to create a zonal master plan to regulate industrial units, quarrying and mining and tourism in all the six zones.
The agitators claim that the planned ESZ would cover the entire Kodagu district and threaten the existence of people living there.

The purpose of declaring eco-sensitive zones around the tiger reserve was to create a “shock absorber” for the protected areas that would act as a transition zone from high-protection areas to areas having lesser protection, Srivastava said, adding that the ministry encouraged rain-water harvesting, organic farming and adoption of green technologies in the ESZ.

Regarding the issue of mining, the official said any kind of mining activity was prohibited within a km of a national park and Nagarahole was no exception. There is also a 2006 Supreme Court order upholding the ban.

On the issue of activities causing pollution and ecological degradation, she said a pristine and cleaner environment would be in the interests of local population.

“These guidelines are site specific and are meant only to regulate various activities around the Protected Areas in a manner, which would cause least damage to the precious environment and wildlife of the Protected Areas,” he said.

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