State wants Centre to trim ESZ around protected forests

In a city where owning land is akin to owning a goldmine, the State government, too, wants to retain its hold on prime real estate. It is now eyeing forest land.

One clear example of this is the letter written recently by Karnataka to the Union government, requesting it to change the definition of eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around all protected forest areas, especially around Bengaluru, whose southern limits now touch the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP).

In order to protect developed land and the interest of a few landholders, the government has sent a proposal to the Ministry of Environment and Forests to make alterations in the ESZ, a senior official in the forest department told Deccan Herald on the condition of anonymity.

The National Tiger Conservation Authority guidelines stipulate that a default 10 km of area should be maintained as ESZ around all national parks and their boundaries. “The State government has the prerogative to do it. But here, it wants to reduce the ESZ boundary by just a km or even 500 metres. Hence, it has approached the Centre,” the official added.

The government wants to reduce the ESZ boundary around all protected forest areas in Karnataka, more so around the BNP where real estate development is fast and land prices are high.

“Although an order on reducing the ESZ boundary is still awaited, the forest department is urging the government not to allow mining, quarrying and other activities that are detrimental to forests, around protected areas. But some activities will be regulated and we will have to ensure that buffer zone is strictly maintained,” the official said.

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