Eco Sensitive Zone

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    In News

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

    More about the news

    • PIL:
      • Public interest litigation (PIL) had challenged the Madhav Gadgil and K Kasturirangan Committees demarcating an area of 56,825 square kilometres spread across six states as the Western Ghats Ecologically Sensitive Area (ESA).
        • The six states are Gujarat, Maharashtra, Goa, Karnataka, Kerala and Tamil Nadu
      • The petitioner had pleaded to the apex court to not implement the recommendations of the Western Ghats Ecologically Expert Panel (Gadgil Committee Report) and the High-Level Working Group (Kasturirangan Committee Report).
    • The Madhav Gadgil Report:
      • The Madhav Gadgil Report had classified the whole of the Western Ghats, spread across six states and covering 44 districts and 142 talukas, as an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ).
    • The Kasturirangan Committee:
      • The Kasturirangan Committee had reduced the ESZ to 37 percent of the total area, covering about 60,000 sq km. It had recommended that 123 revenue villages be demarcated as ESA.
        • Need for formation of Kasturirangan Committee:
          • None of the six concerned states agreed with the recommendations of the Gadgil Committee, which submitted its report in August 2011.
          • In August 2012, then Environment Minister constituted a High-Level Working Group on Western Ghats under Kasturirangan to “examine” the Gadgil Committee report in a “holistic and multidisciplinary fashion in the light of responses received” from states, central ministries and others.
    • Oommen V Oommen Report:
      • To solve the conflict, Oommen Chandy, the former Chief Minister of Kerala in 2014 set up an expert committee to study the loopholes of the previous two committees. 
        • According to the new committee, recommendations were made to the government to implement changes in clauses of the Environmentally Fragile Land (EFL) in the Western Ghats, stating the lapses occurring in determining the EFL areas.
        • Oommen V Oommen Report had recommended that plantations and inhabited areas in the Western Ghats be kept out of the ESA.
        • The petition had pushed for the implementation of the 2014 report.
    • Union Environment Ministry Draft notification of 2014:
      • Notified a total of 56,825 sq. km in the Western Ghats as ESA instead of the original 59,940 sq. km recommended by the Kasturirangan Committee.

    Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ)

    • The Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) are areas in India notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC), GoI around Protected Areas, National Park and Wildlife sanctuaries
    • Range:
      • All identified areas around Protected Areas and wildlife corridors to be declared as ecologically fragile under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (National Wildlife Action Plan, 2002-2016).
      • Eco-sensitive Zone could go up to 10 Kms around Protected Areas
      • In cases where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are even beyond 10 Kms width. 
      • Further, Eco-sensitive zones may not be uniform all around and it could be variable in width and extent.
    • Prohibited activities: 
      • Activities like industries that cause pollution Commercial mining, saw mills, establishment of major hydroelectric projects (HEP), commercial use of wood, Tourism, discharge of effluents or any solid waste or production of hazardous substances are all prohibited.
    • Regulated activities:
      • Activities like felling of trees, establishment of hotels and resorts, commercial use of natural water, erection of electrical cables, drastic change of agriculture system, e.g. adoption of heavy technology, pesticides etc., widening of roads.
    • Permitted activities:
      • Activities like ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, use of renewable energy sources, adoption of green technology for all activities are permitted.

    Significance of Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ)

    • Conservation:
      • ESZs help in in-situ conservation, which deals with conservation of an endangered species in its natural habitat. 
        • For example, the conservation of the One-horned Rhino of Kaziranga National Park, Assam.
      • They minimize forest depletion and man-animal conflict
    • Buffer zone:
      • The protected areas are based on the core and buffer model of management, through which local area communities are also protected and benefitted.
      • ESZs are created as “shock absorbers” for the protected areas, to minimize the negative impact on the “fragile ecosystems” by certain human activities taking place nearby. 
      • These areas are meant to act as a transition zone from areas requiring higher protection to those requiring lesser protection.
    • Mitigating climate change:
      • Biodiversity and climate change are interconnected. Creation of SEZs may help in reducing the rise in temperature.
    • Significance of Recent Judgement:
      • It can lead to more sustainable development.
      • Tribal rights will also be protected with the recent judgement i.e., their culture, diversity etc will be preserved.

    Protected Areas of India

    • Protected areas are those in which human occupation or at least the exploitation of resources is limited. 
    • The definition that has been widely accepted across regional and global frameworks has been provided by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in its categorization guidelines for protected areas. 
    • There are several kinds of protected areas, which vary by level of protection depending on the enabling laws of each country or the regulations of the international organisations involved. 
    • The term “protected area” also includes:
      • Marine Protected Areas, the boundaries of which will include some area of ocean, and 
      • Transboundary Protected Areas that overlap multiple countries which remove the borders inside the area for conservation and economic purposes. 

    Source: DTE