In this post, we are going to learn about what is Eco Sensitive Zone in India. As well as around the world the government has protected certain areas which are essential for biodiversity conservation. You can see the places on this world map and these places consist of National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. The idea is to protect the threatened and endangered species and their habitats ECO-System from hunters and other human activities.
You can learn what is Eco-Sensitive Zone by Audio version.
What is Eco Sensitive Zone ?
Now Eco-Sensitive Zones are areas around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, you can imagine this area as a shock absorber. I’ll tell you with an example,
So this is your house and then you have your compound wall or outer fence right the purpose of this wall is to be the first line of defense for your house. If at all any external threat takes place. You don’t want anything to strike your house, first, it should first strike the outer wall or fence. So that you have the necessary time to prepare.
In a similar sense, Eco-Sensitive zones are these outer areas of a higher protected area. The Government Regulates and Manages. The activities around such areas, so that there is no external harm to the higher protected areas, so this is what is called an Eco-Sensitive zone or Ecologically Fragile Areas.
The area limit of these ECO Sensitive Zones as per the Supreme Court order is up to 10 kilometers. These Eco-Sensitive Zones are Regulated by the Central Government through the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate change. They are the ones who come out with new guidelines for the regulation of such areas the government not only can increase, the area beyond 10 (ten) kilometers width but it can also reduce.
For mining and other commercial development purposes. A good example, of this, can be seen in the case of Bannerghatta National Park, near Bengaluru. In 2018 the central government decided to reduce the area around Bannerghatta National Park by 100 square kilometers. The purpose was to free up more space for mining and commercial development around the rapidly Bengaluru City.
Incidents like this make you think sometimes the government does not mean what it intends and can still cover up its actions behind its real objective. Anyhow the basic aim is to regulate certain activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
So the negative impacts on the ECO-System can be minimized but it is also true when these areas come in the way of development. The government can reduce the land area.
Now that we know what an Eco-Sensitive zone is. It’s time to understand what are the criteria for demarcating such an area. In other words on what basis the government
Defines an area as an Eco sensitive zone?
First of all, you need to know that these ECO Sensitive zones are notified by the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change. This draws its power from the Environment Protection Act of 1986 and when you go on to read this act there’s no mention of the word ECO Sensitive zones. So how did the Government go about it? Now always remember this point since the government makes policies laws and acts while drafting them they see to it that the terms and conditions are not strictly defined.
In other words, it has to be too vague for the average citizen to understand, and then when it is rolled out in the public domain by giving specific duration for the operation of laws the policymakers, then push for new ideas that can be implemented with limited liability. Now when you look at the Environment Protection Act of 1986. If you go to chapter 2 General Powers of the Central Government, in that Section 3 says Power of Central Government to take measures to protect and improve the Environment within that read subsection 2 clause 5.
It says restriction of areas in which any industry’s operations or processes or class of industries operations or processes shall not be carried out or shall be carried out subject to certain safeguards.
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Now go to section 5 clause A, which says the central government can give direction for the closure prohibition or regulation of any industry operation or process with the help of these two sections central government pushes the idea to create ECO Sensitive zones. The same criteria have been used by the government to declare no development zones near the bank of river Ganga and its tributaries.
Anyhow now that you are aware of the sections and clauses the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change uses it to declare new guidelines and parameters from time to time. In the next step, the government forms a committee. You know why government forms a committee they call experts from respective fields who can suggest recommendations to strengthen the policies and look after its implementation.
For creating ECO Sensitive Zones, the ministry has asked all states to constitute a committee that consists of a wildlife warden and Ecologist and a Revenue Department official of the area concerned. The committee then suggests the best methods to manage such zones. They have defined three important categories that need to be considered in defining ECO Sensitive zones. They are in terms of Geo Climatic Features, basically, we are talking about the environment which comes under abiotic attributes by looking at the words you can easily figure out what it means geographic features of a place, such as a slope altitude soil rocks, etc.
Climatic features include rain snow number of wet days etc. Hence it is important to consider and assess these geo-climatic features while giving permits to carry out any activity in the Eco sensitive zones and see to it that such activities do not harm the ECO System or make it any more vulnerable and the second category is biological features now this falls under the biotic attribute.
The following components have to be considered while demarcating Eco Sensitive Zones. The richness of the concerned areas Biodiversity population size and distribution of species total Biomass productivity and then any cultural or historical value of the area and the third Categories Social relevance which include cultural economic and historical importance of the area.
Now this falls into the Anthropological Attributes, it is important to consider the interest of the civil society and the local bodies especially the Zillah, Taluk, and gram panchayats. Local area communities are good at identifying Ecologically and environmentally sensitive areas, of course, these perceptions will vary and it will be based on personal benefit but the committee can get a good idea about the concerned area. So anyhow these are the three broad categories the committee has to consider before suggesting as well as the best methods to manage Eco Sensitive zones.
Now we’ll see the activities that can or cannot be carried out in Eco Sensitive zones some of the prohibited activities are commercial mining setting up of mills and factories that can cause air water soil or noise pollution. Then Establishment of major hydroelectric projects than the commercial use of wood tourism activities like hot-air balloons being flown over the national park or the discharge of effluents or any solid waste or production of hazardous substances.
Now, what are the activities which are regulated these are felling of trees establishment of hotels, and resort commercial use of natural water? Then erection of electrical cables a drastic change of agricultural system for example adoption of heavy machinery and pesticides and then widening of roads, now we’ll see the activities that are permitted these are ongoing agricultural or horticultural practices rainwater harvesting organic farming use of renewable energy sources, then adoption of green technology for all activities.
Thanks for reading .Hope this post helps you to understand what is Eco Sensitive zones.