Green ministry demarcates area around Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary on Haryana side - Hindustan Times
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Green ministry demarcates area around Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary on Haryana side

By, Chandigarh
Apr 07, 2024 05:08 AM IST

The Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, spread over 25.98 square km (about 6420 acres), is under the administrative control of the Union territory of Chandigarh and shares its boundaries with Haryana and Punjab

Rejecting the proposal of the Haryana government to delineate an area of 1,000 metres around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary on the Haryana side as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ), the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) has issued a draft notification, demarcating an area of 1 km up to 2.035 km around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary on the Haryana side as an ESZ.

The sanctuary is located in the Shivalik foothills, which are considered ecologically sensitive and geologically unstable. (HT photo)
The sanctuary is located in the Shivalik foothills, which are considered ecologically sensitive and geologically unstable. (HT photo)

The ministry has sought objections from stakeholders within sixty days of the notification, which was issued on March 22.

In January 2017, the Chandigarh administration had demarcated an area of 1 km up to 2.75 km from the boundary of the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary as ESZ.

The Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, spread over 25.98 square km (about 6420 acres), is under the administrative control of the Union territory of Chandigarh and shares its boundaries with Haryana and Punjab.

The sanctuary is located in the Shivalik foothills, which are considered ecologically sensitive and geologically unstable.

In January this year, the Haryana government, in its revised plan, proposed that an area of 1,000 metres around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary on the Haryana side be delineated as ESZ.

An earlier draft proposal sent on January 31, 2023, by the state government to the MoEFCC had pitched for delineating the ESZ of the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary with an extent of 100 metres towards the Haryana side.

However, the MoEFCC, in a July 29, 2023, communication, asked the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), Haryana, to submit a revised proposal as per the March 2, 2020, orders of the Punjab and Haryana high court.

The HC had directed the MoEFCC to notify at least 1 km area from the boundary of the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary as ESZ falling in Punjab and Haryana within three months.

In 2019, the Supreme Court had scrapped an infrastructure project on the Punjab side, citing that the project land was in close vicinity to the wildlife sanctuary.

The apex court in 2022 also placed the minimum ESZ at 1 km from the demarcated boundary of (all) protected areas. Later, however, demarcation of ESZs was made “area-specific” by the top court while maintaining a blanket ban on mining.

Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary is home to at least seven Schedule 1 animal species of the Wildlife Act, including leopard, Indian pangolin, sambar, golden jackal, king cobra, python, and monitor lizard. The Schedule 1 species are considered endangered and in need of immediate protection. Besides, there are Schedule 2 animal species like reptiles, butterflies, trees, shrubs, climbers, herbs, and 250 bird species that inhabit the sanctuary. “...it is necessary to conserve and protect the area for its biodiversity,” states the Centre’s draft notification.

The 10 Haryana villages, that fall under the proposed ESZ, include Prempura, Sukhomajri, Damala, Lohgarh, Manakpur Thakardas, Surajpur, Chandimandir Kotla, Darra Kharauni, Rampur and Saketri/Mahadevpur.

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