Wetland Conservation

In the news: Pulicat Wetland


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Pulicat Wetland and its topography; Eco-sensitive Zones (ESZs)

Mains level: NA

Why in the news?

  • Settlement of claims for local communities within Pulicat Wetland and Birds Sanctuary boundary raises concerns.
  • State government plans to denotify a significant portion of the sanctuary and Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) for industrial park development.

About Pulicat Wetland and Birds Sanctuary

  • Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary is the second-largest bird sanctuary in India.
  • It cuts across Nellore district of Andhra Pradesh and Thiruvallur district of Tamil Nadu.
  • The sanctuary is situated along the coast of the Bay of Bengal covering an area of 759 square kilometers.
  • The sanctuary is bordered by the Arani River at its southern tip, the Kalangi River from the Northwest, and the Swarnamukhi River at the northern end.
  • Pulicat Lake runs parallel to the Bay of Bengal and has a sand bar, making it a lagoon of its own kind.
  • Sriharikota, renowned as India’s rocket launch pad and home to the Satish Dhawan Space Centre, separates the lake from the Bay of Bengal.
  • The sanctuary includes 16 island villages and 30 villages adjoining the lake, whose inhabitants depend on the lake for their livelihood.
  • Pulicat Lake Bird Sanctuary hosts a large number of migratory birds during winter, including gulls, terns, plovers, shanks, curlews, and storks.
  • It is a habitat for a variety of bird species such as flamingos, pelicans, storks, herons, and ducks.

What are the Eco-sensitive Zones (ESZs)?

  •  Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  • The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
  • They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.

 How are they demarcated?

  • The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does NOT mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
  • However, Section 3(2)(v) of the Act, says that Central Government can restrict areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall be carried out or shall not, subject to certain safeguards.
  • Besides Rule 5(1) of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 states that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries and carrying on certain operations or processes on the basis of certain considerations.
  • The same criteria have been used by the government to declare No Development Zones (NDZs).

Defining its boundaries

  • An ESZ could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002.
  • Moreover, in the case where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are beyond 10 km width, these should be included in the ESZs.
  • Further, even in the context of a particular Protected Area, the distribution of an area of ESZ and the extent of regulation may not be uniform all around and it could be of variable width and extent.



 [2017] Consider the following statements:

1. In India, the Himalayas are spread over five States only.

2. Western Ghats are spread over five States only.

3. Pulicat Lake is spread over two States only.

Which of the statements given above is/are correct?

(a) 1 and 2 only

(b) 3 only

(c) 2 and 3 only

(d) 1 and 3 only

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