SC Judgement On Eco Sensitive Zone:
The Supreme Court directed that every protected forest, national park and wildlife sanctuary across the country should have a mandatory eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of a minimum one km starting from their demarcated boundaries.
- Environment Ministry guidelines show that the purpose of declaring ESZs around national parks, forests and sanctuaries is to create some kind of a “shock absorber” for the protected areas.
- The judgment observed that the government should not confine its role to that of a “facilitator” of economic activities for the “immediate upliftment of the fortunes of the State”.
- In a series of directions, the court held that in case any national park or protected forest already has a buffer zone extending beyond one km, that would prevail.
- In case the question of the extent of buffer zone was pending a statutory decision, then the court’s direction to maintain the one-km safety zone would be applicable until a final decision is arrived.
- The court directed that “mining within the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries shall not be permitted”.
Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs):
- Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
- They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
- An ESZ could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002.
- Moreover, in the case where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are beyond 10 km width, these should be included in the ESZs.
- The purpose of declaring ESZs around national parks, forests and sanctuaries is to create some kind of a “shock absorber” for the protected areas.
- These zones would act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to those involving lesser protection.