After declaring 1.25 kilometres around the Okhla Bird Sanctuary as an Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ), Prakash Javadekar, Environment Minister announced that approvals for 176 such zones have been given by his Ministry. “The declaration of ESZs is the demand of the times and will end all confusion,” said the Minister.
India has over 624 protected areas around which the Supreme Court had in 2006 ordered the creation of Eco Sensitive Zones extending up to ten kilometers. This was enforced when states failed to file proposals for such zones in their jurisdiction within the stipulated framework set by the apex court.
Since 2014 May, the Ministry invited proposals from states for the creation of these zones around protected areas like national parks and sanctuaries. Subsequently, it received 445 proposals and has issued final notifications for 32 of them.
“There was no progress since 2006 to May 2014. However within these eight months, we have been able to make significant progress,” said Javadekar.
The exercise has been completed in the states of Sikkim and Goa while the Ministry is yet to receive over 100 proposals from Andaman and Nicobar islands.
The proposals received from other states, were sent to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) for assessments. The WII’s recommendations were then examined in the Ministry (MoEFCC) by an expert committee before issuing final notification.
“With scientific effort and without any compromise, we are looking at successfully creating an additional ring of protection and are aiming to complete the exercise by 31 March 2015,” said Javadekar. Currently, over 31 draft notifications for ESZs have been left open for public consultations.
“The Ministry seeks to bring clarity in the system and to that end, defining boundaries of ESZ’s are the most important reform,” said Javadekar.