Animal Husbandry

Wildlife nod must for projects in notified eco-sensitive zone

Pritam Kashyap
Pritam Kashyap
Tiger

The ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) in an advisory, issued on July 16, has cleared the confusion of states over the procedure for consideration of wildlife clearance of developmental projects located within 10km of national parks and sanctuaries by the standing committee of National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) seeking environmental clearance under provisions of Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2006.

It said that all developmental projects falling within 10km from national parks and sanctuaries seeking environmental clearance will also need wildlife okay if they are within the notified eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) and those linking one protected area to another.

The projects include all types of mining, irrigation, offshore oil and gas exploration, thermal and nuclear power, coal washeries, metallurgical industries, cement plants, asbestos-based products, chemical and fertilizer units, airports, highways, treatment plants etc.

“If the conditions by MoEFCC are followed, then coal blocks listed for auction in Marki-Mangli-II in Pandharkawda division by the coal ministry will need NBWL clearance as these blocks to fall in the notified tiger conservation plan (TCP) of Tadoba-Andhari Tiger Reserve (TATR). The blocks also fall between one protected areas to another,” said environment lawyer Manish Jeswani.

The MoEFCC has also stated that even if the ESZ proposal of the parks is in draft stage, developmental projects will need permission from the standing committee of NBWL.

Jeswani says confusion arose over notification issued by MoEFCC on August 8, 2019, as projects which were not mentioned in the Schedule appended to EIA notification and were not required to obtain environmental clearance were also asked to obtain wildlife clearance from NBWL.

“In the light of this ambiguity of August notification, the environment ministry came up with above clarification, mandating wildlife clearance only for those projects which are listed in Schedule to EIA 2006 and which require an environmental clearance, if falling within notified ESZ or within 10km from the boundary of the sanctuary or national park or falling within area linking two protected areas,” said Jeswani.

Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areaswithin 10 km around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.It is notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) under the Environment Protection Act 1986 andWildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002.Even Supreme Court has directed the Union Environment Ministry to declare 10 km area around 21 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the country as “eco-sensitive zones”. In case of places with sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, even area beyond 10 km width can also be included in the eco-sensitive zone.In 2013, Environment ministry has declared the first marine eco-sensitive zone around Marine National Park in Gulf of Kutch, Gujarat, thereby prohibiting any industrial activity in the area.

Elephant

The basic aim is to regulate certain activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries to minimise the negative impacts of such activities on the fragile ecosystem encompassing the protected areas. They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.

Activities Allowed in ESZs

Prohibited activities: Commercial mining, sawmills, industries causing pollution (air, water, soil, noise etc), the establishment of major hydroelectric projects (HEP), commercial use of wood, Tourism activities like hot-air balloons over the National Park, discharge of effluents or any solid waste or production of hazardous substances.

Regulated activities: Felling of trees, the 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: Ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices, rainwater harvesting, organic farming, use of renewable energy sources, adoption of green technology for all activities.

If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. Because humans want to save things that they love.”― Steve Irwin

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