MP identifies 17 eco-sensitive zones around sanctuaries

The Madhya Pradesh Government has identified 17 eco-sensitive zones around its wild life sanctuaries and parks, where illegal commercial activities including mining will be prohibited.

A site specific proposal identifying eco-sensitive zones around Kanha National Park (Mandla), Pench National Park (Seoni), Bandhavgarh National Park (Umaria), Panna National Park and Kuno Palpur sanctuary (Seopur) among others has been approved by the State Forest Department.

The move came after the State Government was given a “last chance” to send a site specific proposal to identify eco-sensitive zone by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests before February 15 this year.

The Ministry had written a letter to Madhya Pradesh Chief Secretary on December 11, 2012 directing it to send the proposal within the stipulated time.

The proposal identifying eco-sensitive zones around national parks and sanctuaries has been vetted by the Housing and Environment departments and would soon be put before the State Cabinet, officials said.

After Cabinet’s nod, the State Government would send the proposal to the Union Environment Ministry which would declare the eco-sensitive zones, they said.

According to the Ministry’s norms, land falling within 10 km of a park or sanctuary has to be declared as eco-sensitive zone.

The norms prohibit setting up of industries and commercial projects like hotels and resorts besides checking on mining activities among others.

According to the letter, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests will declare eco-sensitive zones around 10 km of national parks and sanctuaries if it fails to get the response from the State Government before February 15 thus barring commercial and other activities harmful to environment.

Madhya Pradesh, a tiger State, has eight national parks and 25 wildlife sanctuaries.

“The issue is pending for long. The Union Ministry has taken up the matter with the State Government on many occasions. But the State Government could not identify eco-zones around national parks and sanctuaries. The guidelines, if they come into force, will help in checking mining and illegal activities which pose a threat to wild life,” says Ajay Dubey, a wild life activist, who has filed a petition in the Supreme Court to ban tourism inside tiger reserves.- PTI

Madhya Pradesh has eight national parks and 25 wildlife sanctuaries