The 35 national parks and sanctuaries in the state would soon have shock absorbers around them, in the form of eco-sensitive zones. In these zones, likely to be notified soon by the Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), all kinds of development activities like construction, mining, tree-felling, discharge of effluents, extraction of ground water would be regulated or even prohibited.
Also, before any major activity is conducted in these areas, no-objection certificates would be required from the National Board for Wildlife. The state government has finally drawn the limits of the eco-sensitive zones for all its 35 national parks and sanctuaries (including three fossil parks and two alligator sanctuaries) and would be forwarding the proposals to MoEF soon.
The MoEF would then notify the eco-sensitive zones under the Environment Protection Act (EPA), 1986, bringing the abovementioned regulations in place. The state has been dithering on the issue since last ten years, forcing the MoEF to issue a final warning to the state government in December 2012, asking for the proposals on eco-sensitive zones by February 15.
The MoEF warned that if the state failed to file the proposals by this deadline, the guidelines of the ministry (of February 2011), related to prohibition on development, construction and mining activities in 10 km range of all national parks and sanctuaries, would come into force automatically.
Spurred by this stern warning, the government swung into action and recently, the proposals on eco-sensitive zones has been cleared by the state department of environment and housing.
On Monday, a meeting was conducted by the chief secretary on this issue and the proposals have reportedly been been forwarded to the chief minister for approval. Sources said that the approval is likely by Tuesday, after which they would be forwarded to MoEF within the February 15 deadline.