Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Jul 10:
The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate has issued a gazette notification declaring the Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhitarkanika National Park and Gahirmatha (Marine) Wildlife Sanctuary in Odisha as an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ).
As per the notification, the Eco-Sensitive Zone varies from a distance of 560 meters to two kilometres from the boundary of the protected areas of Bhitarkanika Wildlife Sanctuary, Bhitarkanika National Park and Gahirmatha (Marine) Wildlife Sanctuary situated in Kendrapara district and covers a geographical area of 446.40 square kilometres.
The notification also enlists 292 villages, 45 in Bhadrak district and 157 in Kendarapara, which come under the ESZ.
“The state government shall, for the purpose of effective management of the Eco-Sensitive Zone, prepare a Zonal Master Plan within a period of two years from the date of publication of this notification in the Official Gazette, in consultation with the local people and adhering to the stipulations given in the notification,” the gazette notification read.
The Zonal Master Plan shall be prepared in consultation with all concerned state department– Environment, Forest, Urban Development, Tourism, Revenue, Agriculture, Irrigation and Flood Control, Public Works Department and Odisha State Pollution Control Board—for integrating environmental and ecological considerations into it, it added.
Besides, the Zonal Master Plan shall not impose any restrictions on the approved existing land use, infrastructure and activities, unless so specified in the notification. The Zonal Master Plan shall factor in improvement of all infrastructure and activities to be more efficient and eco-friendly.
The notification said the measures to be taken by the state government for giving effect to the provisions of the notification are: land use, tourism, natural heritage, man-made heritage sites, noise pollution, air pollution, discharge of effluents, solid wastes, bio-medical waste and vehicular traffic.
“The Central government hereby constitutes a Monitoring Committee, for effective monitoring of ESZ, which shall comprise—Kendrapara district Collector as Chairman, representative of Bhadrak Collector as member, one representative of non-governmental organisations working in the field of environment, to be nominated by state government as member, SP Kendrapara as member, representative of SP Bhadrak as member, representative of the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change as member, expert in the field of environment wildlife and ecology, to be nominated by the state government, as member, representative of member secretary, Odisha State Pollution Control Board as member, Divisional Forests Officer, Bhadrak Wildlife Division as member, and Divisional Forests Officers-cum-Wildlife Warden, Mangrove Forest Division (Wildlife) Rajnagar as member secretary,” it added.
In addition to this, several activities have been prohibited or set to be regulated within the ESZ.
The prohibited activities are: commercial mining, stone quarrying and crushing units, setting up of saw mills, setting up of industries causing water or air or soil or noise pollution, commercial use of firewood, establishment of new major hydroelectric projects, use of plastic carry bags, use or production of any hazardous substance, undertaking activities related to tourism like over-flying the sanctuary area by hot-air balloons etc, discharge of untreated effluents and solid waste in natural water bodies or land area.
The regulated activities are: felling of trees, commercial establishment of hotels and resorts, commercial water resources including ground water harvesting, erection of electrical cables and telecommunication towers, fencing of existing premises of hotels, lodges and resorts, widening and strengthening of existing roads and construction of new roads, movement of vehicular traffic at night, introduction of exotic species, protection of hill slopes and river banks, commercial sign boards and hoardings, small-scale industries not causing pollution, new wood-based industry, collection of forest produce or non-timber forest produce (NTFP), construction activities, eco-tourism facilities like home stays, ropeways, kiosks, funiculars etc, security forces camp, discharge of treated effluents in natural water bodies or land area, eco-friendly cottages for temporary occupation of tourists such as tents, wooden houses, etc for eco-friendly tourism activities.
The permitted activities are: ongoing agriculture and horticulture practices by local communities along with dairies, dairy farming and fisheries, rain water harvesting, organic farming, use of renewable energy sources, adoption of green technology for all activities, vegetative fencing and cottage industries including village artisans etc.