Forest dept, govt at loggerheads over eco-sensitive zone

Dept, MoEF to have final meeting on issue today

Forest dept, govt at loggerheads over eco-sensitive zone

The state government and the Forest department officials are at loggerheads over the range of eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around protected forest areas.

The forest officials are set to propose one-km radius as ESZ around 19 protected forest areas in the state going by the directions of the Supreme Court and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), while the state government wants it to be reduced to just 100 metre. No developmental activities are allowed within the ESZ. 

Pressure
An official of the forest department, who requested anonymity, said that the government had been putting pressure on them to restrict the ESZ to 100 metre in violation of the apex court directions. 

“ESZs act as shock absorbers and also has transition zones - from high protection to low protection area. They are meant to be regulatory rather than prohibitory in nature. They also help maintain climatological balance,” the officer said. 

The final meeting with the MoEF on the issue is slated for May 30, following which the ministry would  issue a notification.  The forest department and state government swung into action after the MoEF, in July 2013, stated that it had decided to maintain a default range of 10-km radius around the protected areas as ESZ. This applied to the protected areas for which ESZ had not been notified.

Protected areas
Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) B J Hosmath said of the 31 protected areas in the state, 17 have already been notified. 

The protected areas around which the forest department has proposed to demarcate ESZ include Cauvery, Brahmagiri, Pushpagiri, Talacauvery, Arabbi Thittu, Bhimgad, Sharavathi valley, Someshwara, Melkote, MM Hills Wildlife sanctuaries, Daroji and Gudekote bear sanctuaries. 

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