Panel formed to fix buffer zones in national parks

The State Cabinet, on Thursday, set up a sub-committee headed by Forest Minister Ramanath Rai on fixing buffer zones around four wildlife sanctuaries and 27 national parks in the State.

Briefing reporters, Law Minister T B Jayachandra said the Centre had sought the opinion of the State government on fixing buffer zones or eco-sensitive zones as per the Supreme Court direction. The sub-committee will consult all stakeholders and propose the extent of area to be declared  buffer zone, he added.

The apex court has warned that it will fix a 10-km radius around national parks and sanctuaries if the government fails to do so. The government recently declared two-km radius around Bandipur Wildlife Sanctuary as a buffer zone. The same thing has to be done with respect to other protected forest areas in the State, Cooperation Minister H S Mahadev Prasad explained.

The panel, comprising the law minister, higher education minister and cooperation minister, will assess the local condition. Several villages are located close to these forest areas. People in those villages will be affected if they are brought under buffer zone, he added.

Besides, Jayachandra said the panel would look into the controversial Kasturirangan report on protecting the Western Ghats and prepare a draft on the reply the State government proposes to place before the Centre, which had sought the State’s reply on the report.

Slum-free project

The Cabinet also gave its approval to a Rs 10,752-crore project aimed at making all city corporations, including the Bruhat Bangalore Mahanagara Palike, free of slums. The project will be implemented under the Centre-sponsored Rajiv Awaz Yojana jointly by the Centre and State on cost-sharing basis, he said.

The project comprises two components: housing and infrastructure. The Centre will share 75 per cent project cost for housing, while for infrastructure, it will bear 50 per cent cost. The remaining money will be shared by the State government and the respective local body. A similar project has been proposed for 26 other towns of the State, Jayachandra added.

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