Eco-sensitive zones: Despite SC relief, ambiguity remains over conditions

KR Prahaladan

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Representative image | Photo: Mathrubhumi

Kottayam: While the Supreme Court provided some relief to the states by modifying last year's verdict on eco-sensitive zones (ESZs), there remains some ambiguity surrounding certain remarks made in the ruling.

The Supreme Court has directed the states to adhere to both the union government's Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) order dated May 17, 2022, and the 2011 ESZ guidelines. Therefore, the forest officials' approach to implementing these conditions will be crucial.

May 17, 2022 order pertains to the requirement of various environmental and forest clearances for projects or activities in ESZs, eco-sensitive areas (ESAs), other ecologically significant areas around protected areas (PAs) and outside PA in the area which is part of Tiger Reserve.

While 2011 ESZ guidelines pertain to guidelines to be followed for activities in ESZ around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Activities can be commercial mining, felling of trees, setting of sawmills, setting of industries causing pollution, the establishment of hotels and resorts, commercial use of firewood, etc. They are classified as prohibited, restricted with safeguards and permissible.

According to the litigant in the case and Save Western Ghat People Foundation (SWGPF) chairman James Vadakkan, the court itself has to provide clarity.

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