Blanket ban of activities in forest buffer zones impossible: SC

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Supreme Court of India | Photo: Mathrubhumi

New Delhi: While considering a batch of pleas seeking relaxation of the apex court’s previous order on ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) around protected forests, the Supreme Court on Wednesday said that it is not feasible to adopt a total ban on activities in a one-kilometre-wide buffer zone.

The bench of Justice BR Gavai remarked that the apex court ruling was aimed to regulate mining activities in one kilometre area around protected forests as ESZ.

A division bench comprising Justices BR Gavai and Vikram Nath was hearing the petitions filed by the union government demanding relaxations in the apex court order on June 3, 2022.

Additional Solicitor General Aishwarya Bhati, who appeared for the union government, mentioned the Oscar-winning movie "The Elephant Whisperers" to point out that conservation is achievable only by joining hands with humans. By agreeing to this argument, the bench asked whether any scientific study has been carried out to demarcate the buffer zone. Advocate Deepak Prakash cited the ruling of Sulthan Bathery municipality that no developmental projects could be undertaken in areas falling under the buffer zone.

The court also orally agreed to address the concerns of the Kerala government. Meanwhile, the court will hear petitions filed by the state government on the same issue.

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