Sukhna ESZ: Consult Chandigarh admn, revise proposal, Punjab told
Accepting the UT administration’s contention on the area of the Sukhna eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around Sukhna wildlife sanctuary, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has asked Punjab to send revised proposals in keeping with area requirements as specified by Chandigarh administration.
Rejecting the Punjab government’s proposal on ESZ, the MoEF has stated, “The UT administration has raised an objection to the state government’s proposal of keeping only 100 metres of eco sensitive zone (ESZ) area surrounding the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary. It is recommended that the ESZ area should be 1 km.”
Consequently, it has asked the Punjab government to revise its ESZ proposal and submit it again.
The MoEF further stated, “Both the governments of Punjab and Haryana should prepare their ESZ proposals in consultation with the UT administration.”
In 2017, Chandigarh had declared the zone around the sanctuary in the area that falls within the UT boundary as eco-sensitive zone.
MoEF had issued a final notification on ESZ around the sanctuary for Chandigarh alone, while Punjab and Haryana till date have not declared such zones in their respective territories.
In dispute: Width of ESZ
The UT has been pushing that Punjab and Haryana should also follow in its footsteps, as it has declared an area varying from 2km to 2.75km from the sanctuary boundary as ESZ.
The Punjab government, last year, had sent a proposal to Government of India recommending only a 100-metre wide area as ESZ from the boundary of the sanctuary. This is not the first time that Punjab government has sent this proposal to the Union ministry. In 2014 also, Punjab had proposed just 100 metres area as ESZ around the sanctuary.
In its letters to MoEF, Punjab government has maintained that its decision of declaring 100m ESZ on August 8, 2013, was in line with recommendations of the central-empowered committee of the Supreme Court. At that time, too, after UT administration’s objection, the MoEF had asked the Punjab government to extend the ESZ area and submit a revised proposal to ensure protection of the wildlife sanctuary and Sukhna wetland.
The administration in the past had urged the two states to regulate human activity in the catchment area. Even the high court has directed the two states that huge construction could not be allowed close to the sanctuary. UT has already banned all construction in the vicinity of Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary. However, illegal constructions have mushroomed rapidly in the Punjab areas.
90% area of the proposed SESZ falls under the jurisdiction of Punjab and Haryana.
The UT administration has even notified a monitoring committee for the effective monitoring of the ESZ falling in its jurisdiction. The committee under chairmanship of UT’s chief conservator of forests, Debendra Dalai, has been formed for a period of three years. The same committee will also monitor the city’s bird sanctuary in Sector 21.