Bannerghatta National Park’s Eco-Sensitive Zone
- Bannerghatta National Park’s Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ), which provides a regulated buffer zone around protected areas, will remain at 168.84 sq.km. despite thousands of citizens formally objecting to the reduction of nearly 100 sq. km. as compared to the original proposal.
- In the 33rd ESZ Expert Committee meeting of the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) held on February 28, members recommended finalisation after ‘detailed deliberations’ of the November 5 draft notification which declared an ESZ area of 168.84 sq.km. around BNP.
- This represents a 37% reduction from the first draft notification issued in 2016 which had marked an ESZ area of 268.9 sq.km.
- The new ESZ will range from 100 metres (towards Bengaluru) to 1 kilometre (in Ramanagaram district) from the periphery of the protected area. The ESZ Committee estimates that between 150 and 200 elephants were observed at BNP.
- There is a Supreme Court ruling prohibiting quarrying and mining activities within 1km of a protected areas irrespective of the ESZ distance. Since this safe zone is applicable, the objections couldn’t hold.
- MoEF accepted the State government’s position, which is derived from a cabinet sub-committee formed to look into delineation of ESZs in 31 protected areas of the State. In 2015, the State government approved the sub-committee report that reduced ESZ in multiple areas as it ‘may hinder developmental activity’ and was ‘opposed by locals’.