Kerala

Address concerns of local communities over ESZ, says Rahul Gandhi

Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi has urged the Centre to address concerns of the local communities likely to be impacted by the recent Supreme Court judgment on Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ).

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Mr. Gandhi said the judgement mandating the maintenance of ESZ of 1 km around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries had led to widespread protests in Wayanad.

The local communities, still reeling under the impact of the pandemic, had expressed apprehension over the implications of the judgment on their lives and livelihoods, Mr. Gandhi said.

“The guidelines for declaration of ESZ around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in 2011 as well as the recent Supreme Court judgment prohibit certain activities in them,” Mr. Gandhi said, adding that the guidelines also regulated several activities, including the change of agriculture systems, protection of hill slopes, and erection of electrical cables.

The judgment says that no permanent structure shall be permitted to come up for whatsoever purpose within the ESZ. As one of the most densely populated regions in the Western Ghats, such restrictions hamper the ability of the local communities to improve their standard of life, he added.

The judgment provides for the dilution of minimum width of ESZ in “overwhelming” public interest and allows the State government to approach the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF and CC) regarding the same. The judgement also states that the recommendations of the CEC, and MoEF and CC would be considered by the Supreme Court.

Mr. Gandhi said he had written to Chief Minister Pinarayi Vijayan requesting the State government to approach the CEC, and MoEF and CC.

Hence, the Centre should address the concerns of the local communities likely to be impacted by the judgment and reiterate its commitment to balance the goals of conservation with the legitimate developmental needs of the people, he said.


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Printable version | Jul 30, 2022 7:10:52 pm | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/kerala/address-concerns-of-local-communities-over-esz-says-rahul-gandhi/article65563875.ece