Mains Paper 3: Environment | Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
From UPSC perspectives, the following things are important
Prelims Level: Bannerghatta National Park, ESZs
Mains Level: Read the attached story
- Bannerghatta National Park’s Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ), which provides a regulated buffer zone around protected areas, will remain at 168.84 sqkm despite thousands of citizens formally objecting to the reduction of nearly 100 sq. km. as compared to the original proposal.
- The new ESZ will range from 100 metres (towards Bengaluru) to 1 kilometre from the periphery of the protected area.
What are Eco-Sensitive Zones?
- An ecologically sensitive area is one that is protected by the government given the sheer number of species, plants and animals endemic to the region.
- 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.
- The definition offered by the MoEF: An ecological sensitive area is a bio-climatic unit (as demarcated by entire landscapes) in the Western Ghats wherein human impacts have locally caused irreversible changes in the structure of biological communities (as evident in number/ composition of species and their relative abundances) and their natural habitats.
- 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.
Citizens’ opposition ignored
- When the ESZ notification for Bannerghatta National Park was issued in October 2018, citizens were given 60 days to submit their objections.
- Environmental and civic action groups swung into action and encouraged people to submit their objections to the MoEFCC against the 100 sqkm reduction of ESZ.
- The fear of many was that this reduction would lead to more quarrying in the area.