MoEF releases guidelines for eco-zones around national parks

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New Delhi, Feb 15 (PTI) In a bid to prevent ecologicaldamages caused due to developmental activities around NationalParks and Wildlife Sanctuaries, the Environment Ministry hascome out with new guidelines to create eco-sensitive zoneswhich will work as "shock absorbers" for the protected areas.

The new eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) guidelines, declared bythe Ministry on February 9, would also ensure that these areasare treated act as transition zones from areas of highprotection to areas involving lesser protection.

"The basic aim is to regulate certain activities aroundNational Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries so as to minimise thenegative impacts of such activities on the fragile ecosystemencompassing the protected areas," the Ministry said in itsnew guidelines.

The Ministry has asked all states to constitute acommittee comprising the wildlife warden, an ecologist and arevenue department official of the area concerned to suggestthe requirement of an eco-sensitive zone and its extent.

The panel could also suggest the best methods to managesuch zones and broad-based thematic activities to be includedin the master plan for the areas, which have been classifiedas prohibited, restricted with safeguards and permissible.

The guidelines said activities including commercialmining, setting of saw mills and industries causing pollution,commercial use of firewood, major hydropower projects areprohibited in such areas.

It also prohibits tourism activities like flying overprotected areas in an aircraft or hot air balloon anddischarge of effluents and solid waste in natural water bodiesor terrestrial areas.

Felling of trees, drastic change in agriculture systemsand commercial use of natural water resources, includinggroundwater harvesting and setting up of hotels and resortsare the activities regulated in the areas.

Activities permitted in the areas include ongoingagriculture and horticulture practices by local communities,rainwater harvesting, organic farming, adoption of greentechnology and use of renewable energy sources.

Observing that many protected areas have alreadyundergone tremendous development in close vicinity of theirboundaries and some are actually located in an urban set-up,the Ministry said the width of the ESZ will have to be keptflexible and protected area-specific.

"The width of the Eco-sensitive Zone and type ofregulations will differ from protected area to protected area.

However, as a general principle the width of eco-sensitivezone could go upto 10 kms around a protected area as providedin the Wildlife Conservation Strategy-2002," it said. (MORE)PTI TGB

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