SUBJECT :Eco-Sensitive Zones 

 The Uttarakhand Government has proposed the setting up of three new eco-sensitive zones — Binog (Mussoorie) Wildlife Sanctuary, Valley of Flowers National Park and Nandhore Wildlife Sanctuary — in the hill state.

“We have already sent proposals to the Centre for declaring three new eco-sensitive zones in our state,” confirmed a top government official.

The proposal is being seen as a step to stop the rampant ongoing haphazard and unplanned development along key national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

In addition, the government is also mulling to declare eco-sensitive zones in all buffer areas of the remaining national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, including the world-famous Corbett National Park. Under the Supreme Court orders, an area of 10 km around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries should be declared as eco-sensitive zones, the official said.

Interestingly, the Central Government had declared a 100-km zone from Gaumukh to Uttarkashi as eco-sensitive zone in 2012 which faced opposition from the state government.

The Central Government had said that it would review the contentious eco-sensitive zone along the Bhagirathi in Uttarkashi district, putting a barrier to carrying out of developmental projects worth Rs 10,000 crore.

Chief Minister Harish Rawat had been opposing the 4179.59-sq-km and 100-km-long eco-sensitive zone, the final notification of which was issued in December 2012. The eco zone in the Bhagirathi Valley has adversely affected scores of developmental projects, including tourism activities and hydel projects, in the hill state.

The eco-sensitive zone area has been increased from 40 sq km to 4,179.59 sq km without taking the consent of the hill state, government officials said.

The Central Government’s decision to declare eco-sensitive zone on the Bhagirathi had dealt a blow to hydel projects in the vast stretch of the river between Gomukh and Uttarkashi regions in Uttarakhand. Altogether, hydel projects with a capacity of over 1,743 mw are being affected by the eco-sensitive zone in the area where the Centre has put up restrictions on any big construction activity.

Top government official said the eco sensitive zone would also adversely affect the construction of roads along the India-Tibet border as well as certain defence projects.

Source: The Tribune, Chandigarh