Creation of the mandatory eco-sensitive zone a challenge

An initiative to protect the Coringa Wildlife Sanctuary from environmental pollution has been taken up following the guidelines issued by the Indian Board for Wildlife and the Supreme Court as well.

The idea is to create an eco-sensitive zone around the sanctuary so that the flora and fauna are protected from all sorts of pollution. However, creation of the buffer zone may affect the industrial development in the city and its suburbs.

An exercise is going on at the district-level to chalk out proposals for issuing a notification declaring eco-sensitive zones for the sanctuary and the Papikonda National Park. Since the park is surrounded by the Godavari, the river itself acts as a buffer zone.

But creation of the eco-sensitive zone for the Coringa sanctuary, located on the city outskirts, remains a challenge now.

“Creation of a buffer zone is mandatory. Once the zone is created, a 10-member monitoring committee will be formed at the district-level to ensure the sanctuary is protected from pollutants,” P.S. Raghavaiah, District Forest Officer, told The Hindu .

As per the guidelines, the distance of the eco-sensitive zone need not be 10 km, but can be flexible and area-specific. Officials of the East Godavari district are planning to make it 5 km from the sanctuary, but still they have found many industries within the radius.

“The distance can be reduced, as there is no mention about the minimum distance in the guidelines. But once the notification is issued specifying the boundaries, there will be restrictions on establishment of new industrial units, construction activities, quarrying and mining, and even on tourism,” Mr. Raghavaiah explains. After eliciting opinions from the officials of departments such as industries, revenue, tribal welfare, energy, and local bodies, the boundaries will be finalised and sent to the Ministry of Environment and Forests for issuing the notification.

“We have to welcome this initiative, as the wildlife sanctuary with endangered species will be protected from pollution,” says R. Ramasubramanian, senior scientist from the M.S. Swaminathan Foundation.

“We need industrial development. At the same time, we won’t compromise with regard to protecting the environment.

The eco-sensitive zone will be created in a way that it is not going to affect the industrial development,” says B. Rama Rao, Additional Joint Collector.

  • As per relevant guidelines, the distance of buffer zone can be flexible and area-specific

  • Once notification specifying boundaries is issued, there will be curbs on industrial activity