Approximately, 12 hectares area around City Bird Sanctuary in Sector 21, Chandigarh, has been declared as an eco-sensitive zone and will be known as the City Bird Sanctuary Eco-sensitive Zone. With the Central Ministry of Environment and Forests notification, as many as 186 houses, a government model school, Nirankari darbar and a children park will now fall in the eco-sensitive zone and come under the purview of a horde of restrictions and regulations.
What is an Eco-Sensitive Zone?
Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India around Protected Areas to prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas. They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection. The basic aim is to regulate certain activities around National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries so as to minimize the negative impacts of such activities on the fragile ecosystem encompassing the protected area.
What all activities are regulated or restricted in Eco-Sensitive Zones?
- Use of fireworks or crackers in the eco-sensitive zone of City Bird Sanctuary shall be prohibited.
- Noise, air and vehicular shall be regulated.
- No use of plastic bags or any hazardous substances.
- No change in land use pattern is allowed.
- Fencing of premises of hotels and lodges will be prohibited.
- Commercial use of natural water resources, including groundwater, will be restricted.
- Laying of high-tension transmission lines shall not be allowed while laying of new electricity cables shall be regulated as per Eco-sensitive Management Plan. However, laying of underground cable shall be promoted.
- Construction of street lights would be regulated as well.
- No new or expansion of existing polluting industries shall be permitted within the eco-sensitive zone.
The residents of Chandigarh has always been nature lovers and stood by animal rights, but this move of the Central government has not gone down well with the residents in Sector 21. They had opposed the move at the very instance when the draft for the eco-sensitive tag was moved and they plan to challenge the notification now too. However, UT Chief Conservator and Chief Wildlife Warden, Santosh Kumar, has maintained, “There won’t be any restriction on the construction residents need to carry out. Of course, there would be restrictions on the noise since it is an eco-sensitive zone now. But residents won’t be inconvenienced.”
According to the notification, a 10-member eco-sensitive zone monitoring committee has also been constituted which will monitor the compliance of the notification provisions. The Chief Wildlife Warden will be the chairman of the committee while Chief Architect, Chief Engineer UT and MC and others will be on the committee. The member secretary of the Monitoring Committee or the Deputy Conservator Forest concerned shall be competent to file complaints under Section 19 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) against any person who contravenes the provisions of this notification.
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Source: The Indian Express