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  • 15 September, 2022

  • 9 Min Read

Eco-Sensitive Zone

Eco-Sensitive Zone

Recently, Supreme Court quashed a plea against Gadgil, Kasturirangan reports.

Details about the news

  • Public interest litigation (PIL): The Western Ghats Ecologically Sensitive Area was defined as a 56,825 square kilometer area across six states by the Madhav Gadgil and K. Kasturirangan Committees (ESA).
  • Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala, and Tamil Nadu are the six states.
  • The petitioner had prayed with the Supreme Court to not put the Western Ghats Ecologically Expert Panel's and the High-Level Working Group's recommendations into effect (Kasturirangan Committee Report).

Report by Madhav Gadgil:

  • The entire Western Ghats, which span six states, 44 districts, and 142 talukas, was designated an eco-sensitive zone in the Madhav Gadgil Report (ESZ).
  • The ESZ was decreased by the Kasturirangan Committee to a size of around 60,000 square kilometres, or 37% of the overall area. It had suggested designating 123 revenue villages as ESA.
  • A High-Level Working Group on the Western Ghats was established in August 2012 by the then-environment minister under the leadership of Kasturirangan to "examine" the Gadgil Committee report "in a holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received" from states, central ministries, and other parties
  • Kasturirangan Committee establishment is required because of:

The Gadgil Committee submitted its report in August 2011, however, none of the six interested states concurred with its conclusions.

Oommen V Oommen Report:

  • Oommen Chandy, the former chief minister of Kerala, established an expert committee in 2014 to investigate the shortcomings of the previous two committees in an effort to resolve the problem.
  • The new committee claims that amendments to the Environmentally Fragile Land (EFL) clauses in the Western Ghats were recommended to the government due to errors made in identifying the EFL zones.
  • The Oommen V Oommen Report had advised against including the Western Ghats' plantations and populated regions in the ESA.
  • The 2014 report's implementation had been pushed for by the petition.
  • Instead of the initial 59,940 sq. km. that the Kasturirangan Committee proposed, a total of 56,825 sq. km. in the Western Ghats were notified as ESA.

Eco-Friendly Zone (ESZ)

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), GoI, has designated some regions in India as Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ) in and surrounding Protected Areas, National Parks, and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • Range: The Environment (Protection) Act of 1986 shall identify as ecologically fragile any defined regions surrounding Protected Areas and wildlife corridors (National Wildlife Action Plan, 2002-2016).
  • The eco-sensitive zone may surround protected areas for up to 10 kilometers.
  • In situations where environmentally significant areas, interconnectedness, and sensitive corridors extend over 10 km in width.
  • Additionally, eco-sensitive zones might not be consistent everywhere and their breadth and scope might vary.

Prohibited Behaviors

  • Activities such as polluting industries business, mining, sawmills, the construction of large hydropower projects (HEP), the use of wood for commercial purposes, tourism, the discharge of effluents or any solid waste, or the manufacturing of hazardous materials are all forbidden.
  • Regulated activities include cutting down trees, building hotels and resorts, using natural water for commercial purposes, erecting electricity lines, drastically altering the agriculture system, such as by using heavy machinery, insecticides, etc., and widening highways.
  • Activities that are allowed include continued horticultural or agricultural techniques, the use of renewable energy sources, organic farming, and the adoption of green technology for all activities.

Meaning of the Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ)

  • In-situ conservation, which deals with preserving a threatened species in its natural habitat, is made possible through ESZs.
  • For instance, Kaziranga National Park in Assam's One-horned Rhino conservation efforts.
  • They reduce conflict between humans and animals as well as forest loss.
    The core and buffer style of management serves as the foundation for the protected areas, which also benefits and protects the surrounding communities.
  • To lessen the detrimental effects of some surrounding human activities on the "fragile ecosystems," ESZs are designed as "shock absorbers" for protected areas.
  • These areas are intended to serve as a transition zone between those locations that need more protection and those that need less protection.

Way Forward

  • Climate change and biodiversity are related. The establishment of SEZs might aid in limiting the rise in temperature.
  • More sustainable development may result from it.
  • With the current ruling, tribal rights will also be safeguarded, including the preservation of their culture and variety.

Source: The Indian Express

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