Cabinet panel going slow on eco-sensitive zones

Cabinet panel going slow on eco-sensitive zones

Cabinet panel going slow on eco-sensitive zones

The Cabinet sub-committee on delineation of eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) is going slow on notifying the areas around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the State.

 ESZs are notified to check the negative impact of industrialisation and unplanned development in and around protected areas which are eco-sensitive.

The State, as per the direction of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, has to maintain “eco-fragile zone” in 10-km radius of all the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

The State forest department should have completed the task of drawing the boundary for ESZs by February this year, but has failed to meet the deadline.

The department has also decided to make exceptions to the rules in regions where political, mining and quarrying lobbies are working strong. As a result, the Cabinet sub-committee has decided to exclude several villages in and around Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary, which spreads in Mandya, Chamarajnagar and Ramanagar districts, and Ranebennur black buck sanctuary in Haveri district.

 While Energy Minister D K Shivakumar is in-charge of Ramanagar district, Co-operation minister H S Mahadev Prasad is in-charge of Haveri district. Incidentally, both the ministers are on the Cabinet sub-committee.

100 mts around villages

The committee has decided to notify only 100 mts around all the villages in Kanakapura taluk, a hub of granite quarrying and five villages around the black buck sanctuary, where both mining and quarrying activities are thriving. Forest department officials say that notifying 100 mts was as good as not declaring the zone. 

The committee has also decided to exclude as many as 15 villages around Bannerghatta National Park. It feels that notifying ESZ around Bannerghatta Biological Park, would hamper developmental activities. It is said that Home Minister K J George, in-charge of Kodagu district, had submitted to the committee that not an inch of land in the district should be declared as ESZ.  George told this newspaper that it would be impractical to notify ESZ in the district. The locals have opposed the ESA and ESZ, he pointed out.

However, the committee is of the view that 200 to 500 mts around the three national parks - Talacauvery, Brahmagiri and Pushpagiri, should be notified as ESZ.

The committee has also decided not to notify any of the revenue villages around Anshi National Park in Uttar Kannada district, in Joida, Karwar and Haliyal taluks. The sub-committee has held four meetings and the forest department is reworking the areas to be demarcated for the final notification.

The recommendations of the sub-committee will have to be submitted to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests for approval. There are five national parks and 27 wildlife sanctuaries in Karnataka.

 Of these, ESZ has been notified in only 70 to 80 villages around Bandipur National Park. According to the ESZ guidelines, mining, major industries, tourism activities, discharge of effluents, setting up of hydro projects, are prohibited in the zone.