Hyderabad,11 September -2014,(IANS): Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar Thursday said the perception of the ministry has…
In an effort to showcase the fast pace of work in environment ministry under the National Democratic Alliance (NDA), environment minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday that his ministry is in the process of declaring eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) of 176 protected areas across the country. Mocking the functioning of the environment ministry under United Progressive Alliance, Javadekar said, “Ever after the Supreme Court asked for declaration of ESZ’s in 2006, the UPA managed to notify only 15 of them till 2014. On the other hand, I have approved 176 proposals.” In a 2006 ruling, the SC had said that until Centre declared ESZ’s, an area of 10kms from the PA’s would be considered as the ESZ.
ESZ’s are declared around protected areas to regulate activity in and around them and to maintain their ecological sanctity. In the case of several protected areas and tiger reserves, the ESZ’s are as important as they nurture a similar habitat and witness regular movement of wildlife. ESZ’s are also crucial in the case of urban protected areas as pressures of development are manifold.
According to the ministry’s data, India has a total of 624 protected areas (PA) such as national parks, sanctuaries and tiger reserves and proposals for 445 ESZ proposals have been submitted. Out of these 445, total of 156 proposals are still under scrutiny and 113 are under process in the ministry.
The minister also clarified that besides the 176 proposals, draft notification was already issues for 31 PA’s while a final notification was issued for 32 PA’s. The ministry completed the process of declaring ESZ’s only in Sikkim and Goa till now. Even as the minister played up the pace of work in declaring ESZ’s, there was no mention of on what scientific basis ESZ’s were demarcated and reduced.
Conservationists said that the ministry is only in a hurry to declare ESZ’s without paying attention to demarcation, commercial activities carried out around PA’s and implementation. “The ministry has done precious little to implement existing ESZ’s such as the Mandakani basin ESZ in Uttarakhand. With regards to demarcation of boundaries, it is not clear what science has been followed and commercial activities are guiding ESZ declarations.
Also, there is an overlap of buffer zones and ESZ’s,” said Sanjay Upadhyay, environmental lawyer and former member of standing committee, National Board for Wildlife .