The National Tiger Conservation Authority on Friday informed the Kerala High Court that prior clearance from the standing committee of the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) was mandatory for development activities within 10 km of a national park/wildlife sanctuary.
The submission was made by the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA) when a writ petition against the construction of an airstrip at Manjumala in Idukki, adjacent to the Periyar Tiger Reserve, came up for hearing.
In a statement, the authority said the Chief Conservator of Forest (Wildlife) had informed it that the airstrip was adjacent to the Periyar Tiger Reserve.
The aerial distance of the runway was 630 metres from the boundary of the reserve.
The area had ecologically distinct characteristics and contained important habitats such as shola forest and montane temperate grasslands that are vital for sustenance of the prey base of carnivores. Besides, any kind of disturbance to the habitat due to operation of flights may impact the migration of birds, reduce the breeding capacity of animals, and affect the life cycle of fauna of the area. The area adjoining the airstrip had high density of tigers and co-predators., the CCF had reported to the authority.
The statement pointed out that the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had stipulated that the proposals involving development activities/projects located within the notified eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) shall be regulated and governed by the ESZ notification concerned.
It is also mandated that the proposals involving developmental activity/projects located within l0 km of national parks/wildlife sanctuaries wherein final ESZ notification is not notified or ESZ notification is in draft stage, prior clearance from the Standing Committee of the National Board for Wildlife was mandatory.
In such cases, the project proponent shall submit applications simultaneously for the grant of terms of reference/environmental clearance as well as wildlife clearance.
The petitioner contended that the construction of the airstrip on 4.8565 ha in Manjumala village in Peerumade was illegal as it had not received environmental clearance and clearances under the Forest Conservation Act.