‘The proposals sent by States are not demarcated scientifically’
The Ministry of Environment and Forests has decided to return the Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) proposals sent by various States as many of them are not demarcated scientifically. States will have to rework the proposals and resubmit them.
Ministry sources said they received 406 proposals from Chief Wildlife Wardens of different States. The proposals were sent to the Wildlife Institute of India, Dehra Dun, which scrutinised them and pointed out the modifications that needed to be incorporated in each proposal. The Ministry would return the proposals within a month, the sources said.
In the case of bird sanctuaries in most of the States, the ESZ had been earmarked within the water-bound areas, the Ministry pointed out. The States explained that these sanctuaries were mainly created to act as irrigation tanks for farmers. A senior official from the Ministry said: “Not even 10 metre distance from the water-bound area has been demarcated as ESZ in many bird sanctuaries in the country. Similarly, most of the proposals appeared to be prepared in haste with no focus on conservation.”
Tamil Nadu examples
Referring to Tamil Nadu, the Ministry sources citing the example of Vedanthangal said the State Wildlife authorities declared the bund of the Vedanthangal tank as the maximum area for covering ESZ. Similarly, in Pulicat the authorities have not issued ESZ proposal, stating that already 13 fishing villages were located inside the Pulicat area. In the case of Guindy National Park, the authorities have not included the IIT campus. The Ministry officials said IIT was carved out from a portion of the Park. With regard to Tiger Reserves in the State, the Ministry sources said up to the buffer zone, areas were declared as ESZ. However, when it came to inter-state boundaries between two tiger reserves, the States have not held consultation meetings with their neighbours before sending the proposal. Ministry sources said there was a misconception among many that the ESZ orders were prohibitory in nature. Actually, the orders were only a regulatory mechanism to stop unauthorised activities near the sanctuaries, national parks or in the tiger reserves.