The Supreme Court has recently modified its judgment to have mandatory eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) around protected forests
What are ESZs?
- Eco-Sensitive Zones or Ecologically Fragile Areas defined as areas around protected areas like wildlife sanctuaries, tiger reserves, national parks, etc.
- ESZs were notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change under the provisions of the Environment Protection Act, of 1986.
- The National Wildlife Action Plan prepared by the MoEFCC stated that state governments were to declare land that came within 10 km of protected areas such as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries as Eco-Sensitive Zones.
What was the recent SC judgment?
- On June 3, 2022, the apex court had ordered a 1-km buffer zone for protected areas to act as a “shock absorber.”
- The state should not prioritize the facilitation of economic activities in order to attain short-term financial advantages.
Current judgement: The court has now made it clear that ESZs cannot be uniform across the country and has to be “protected area-specific.”
Impact of the Judgment
- For the improvement of the life of the villagers, it prevents from reconstruction of houses, the government from constructing schools, dispensaries, anganwadis, and other basic structures .
- It would be impossible for forest departments to conduct eco-development activities around national parks and sanctuaries.
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