nsive study on environment
ARKING ECO SENSITIVEAREA Why in news? .Centre has released a draft notification for earmarking Eco-Sensitive Area (ESA) in Western Ghats Background information In 2010, the Central government began the process of declaring ESAs by constituting the Madhav Gadgil committee. The recommendations were not implemented after protest from all states, especially Kerala, saying that it hampered development and large habitations. .Subsequently, a High-Level Working Group (HLWG) under former ISRO chairman K Kasturirangarn gave a report in 2013 recommending 37 per cent (about 60,000 sq km) of the Western Ghats as ecologically sensitive areas. However, the states were still at loggerhead. Centre has issued 3 draft ESA notifications for consultation with states since 2014. This is the 4th such draft proposing 56,825 sq km of Western Ghats as 'no go' zone which covers nearly 37% of Western Ghats and is in line with Kasturirangan Committee recommendations The process to notify ESA delayed when Karnataka, Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu raised their objections on recommendation of the HLWG, leaving the ecologically fragile region in Western Ghats open for further exploitation
The NGT on August 24, 2018 directed the ministry to finalise the notifica a period of six months without making any alteration in the draft of February last year. . . So, the Centre will now have to finalise it by February next year. Eco Sensitive Zones (ESZ)/ Eco-Sensitive Area (ESA) ESZs are ecologically important areas notified under the Environment Protection Act to be protected from industrial pollution and unregulated development. According to the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986, the government can prohibit industrial operations such as mining, sand quarrying and building thermal power plants in sensitive areas. To categorise an area as ecologically sensitive, the government looks at topography, climate and rainfall, land use and land cover, roads and settlements, human population, biodiversity corridors and data of plants and animal species
As per orders of the Supreme Court, no project can be allowed within 1 boundary of national parks and sanctuaries without the approval of the Nationa Board of Wildlife (NBWL), the highest body on wildlife regulatory issues, unless a site-specific Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) is notified around that park or sanctuary. Purpose for declaring ESZ around National Parks and Sanctuaries is to create some kind of "shock absorber" for the protected areas. o They would also act as transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.o The activities in the ESZ would be of a regulatory nature rather than prohibitive nature, unless and otherwise so required Extent of ESZ: The width of the ESZ and type of regulations would differ from one protected area (PA) to other. However, as a general principle the width of the ESZ could go up to 10 kms around a PA (may not be uniform all around it) as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy-2002. o In case where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkages, are even beyond 10 kms width, these should be included in the ESZ.
.Nature of Activities in ESZ: While some of the activities coul allowed in all the ESAs, others will need to be regulated/ prohibited. However, which activity can be regulated or prohibited and to what extent, would have to be PA specific. There are 3 categories of activitieso Prohibited- commercial mining, polluting industries, major hydroelectric projects etc. o Restricted with safeguards (Regulated) Felling of trees, Establishment of hotels and resorts, Drastic change of agriculture system, widening of roads, introduction of exotic species etc. o Permissible- Rain Water Harvesting, Organic farming, Ongoing Agricultural Practices etc. .
Problems associated with ESZ .States like Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh, Jharkhand and Goa etc. kept the mining areas out of irrespective of their ecological value. Besides, no ground investigation has been done in most proposals. The areas are randomly marked on topographic sheets. Most proposals do not follow ecological aspects of the objective of this exercise. In most of the proposals, distance from the PA boundary is made the only criterion for defining ESZ and factors such as habitat connectivity and ecological integrity of the region are rarely considered for identifying the zones. .States hesitate to finalize ESZ as it might hamper their finances due to closure of industries and tourism activities. .There are no quantifiable criteria defined for including or excluding an area in the ESZ, leaving it to the forest officials to arbitrarily take decisions. People who are living in biodiversity rich areas are mostly excluded from the consultation process to identify the ESZ. However, they are the one who will be directly affected by regulated or restricted activities Though ESZ does not affect the ownership rights of people on land resources, it restricts land-use change. The tribal people who mostly reside in these areas are affected as their livelihood mostly depend on forest products
. Way Forward As the experts are attributing the recent catastrophic floods in Kerala to the exploitative activities in Western Ghats, the issue of ESZ gains prominence. There needs to be a balance between the development and biodiversity conservation. .Centre should take all the states on board along with due representation from the local population in deciding the ESZ. * The declaration of ESZ should be in line with the rights given to tribal population under Forest Rights Act-2006 and The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to the Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996(PESA-1996
BANNI GRASSLAND .Why in news? Nomadic tribes (Maldhari) are leaving their villages in Banni region due to water scarcity. About Banni grassland The Banni grassland of Gujarat (near Rann of Kutch) is the largest natural grassland in the Indian subcontinent known for its scarce rainfall and semi-drought conditions. . The land of Banni is formed out of ocean clay, so it includes an element of salt from very beginning. This land is formed out of alluvial and clayey sand. .Migratory pastoralism has been followed here from centuries with a broader geographical landscape that included Sindh in Pakistan and even extended into parts of Baluchistan and Afghanistan Now, Banni is divided into eastern and western parts separated by National Highway 341, which leads to the India-Pakistan International Border. .There are 22 ethnic communities living in the area called Maldhari pastoralists('mal' means animal stock and 'dhari means keeper)