Increased Cauvery Sanctuary ESZ area cheers greens, forest dept

Increased Cauvery Sanctuary ESZ area cheers greens, forest dept

Increased Cauvery Sanctuary ESZ area cheers greens, forest dept

The notification by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) announcing eco-sensitive zones around Cauvery Wildlife Sanctuary (CWS) has cheered conservationists and the forest department.

Compared to the draft, the MoEF has increased the ESZ area around CWS by 42.1 sq km. This is similar to what MoEF had done with Pushpagiri Wildlife Sanctuary.

In the draft notification, the state had proposed an area of 558 sq km for ESZ with an extent of 100 metres to 15 km around the boundary.

In the final notification, the total geographical area of the ESZ has been declared as 600.7 sq km with an extent of one km to 14.5 km around the boundary of CWS. The MoEF has also included two forests around CWS in the list — Muneshwara State Forest and Chunchi West reserve forest.

In March, a poacher was shot down by forest officials in CWS. Agitated locals attacked the forest staff and even set department vehicles on fire.

P Ravi Kumar, environment, forest and ecology secretary, said a master plan will be prepared under the chairmanship of the regional commissioner on the activities permitted in the zones.

Hydel project barred

According to the notification, what is permitted will continue, but what is regulated will be defined. One project which will be barred is the proposed hydel project in the elephant corridor of CWS.

“The overall area of ESZ has increased by 42 sq km with the inclusion of some reserve forests which is a welcome step. However, it would have been useful had the ESZ boundaries to the north towards Bannerghatta National Park been extended further as the corridor is very narrow,” said Praveen Bhargav, trustee, Wildlife First.

The deletion of thermal plants and wood-based industries from the prohibited activities’ list appears to be without proper justification and a dilution of the draft notification, Bhargav pointed out.