Declare 10 km around 21 national parks as eco-sensitive

Declare 10 km around 21 national parks as eco-sensitive

The Jogimatti Hill station near Chitradurga. DH File Photo

The Supreme Court on Tuesday directed the Union government to declare 10 kilometres areas around 21 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries - including three from Karnataka - as an eco-sensitive zone, restricting and regulating commercial and other activities over there.

A bench of Justices Madan B Lokur, Deepak Gupta and Hemant Gupta took into consideration a contention by amicus curiae advocate A D N Rao that various state governments did not take necessary steps, though the issue has been pending since sometime in December, 2006.

“Twelve years have gone-by but no effective steps have been taken by the state governments in respect of the national and wildlife sanctuaries,” he said.

“Under the circumstances, we direct that an area of 10 kms around these 21 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries be declared as an eco-sensitive zone by the Ministry of Environment and Forest. The declaration be made by the MoEF at the earliest,” the bench ordered.

Though Karnataka had not sent proposal with regard to ‘Jogimatti’ (Chitradurga), ‘Thimlapura’ (Tumakuru) and ‘Yadahalli Chinkara (Bagalkot)’ sanctuaries, the court has ordered for their inclusion in the list

According to the guidelines, activities like commercial mining, setting up of sawmills and industries causing pollution, commercial use of firewood and major hydropower projects, are prohibited in such areas.

It also prohibits tourism activities like flying over protected areas in an aircraft or hot air balloon, and discharge of effluents and solid waste into natural water bodies or terrestrial areas.

Besides, felling of trees, drastic change in agriculture systems and commercial use of natural water resources, including groundwater harvesting and setting up of hotels and resorts, are the activities regulated in the areas.

Appearing for Centre, Additional Solicitor General A N S Nadkarni said there are 104 national parks and 558 wildlife sanctuaries. He said the proposals for declaring areas around 641 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries as eco-sensitive zone have been received from state governments and Union territories administrations but no such proposal were received in respect of 21 protected areas.

The notifications were issued in case of 289 on November 26 and in respect of 206, the draft has been prepared. The declaration with regard to eco-sensitive zone is under process with regard to 146 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, he said.

The court directed to issue final notification at the earliest in respect of those national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.