What the FAQ: What is Eco-Sensitive Zone? Why people in Kerala are protesting against the declaration of ESZ around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary?

This draft of creating ESZ around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary has created a lot of unrest among people living in Wayanad. They have got on the streets demanding justice as their homes will be destroyed
Pic: Edexlive
Pic: Edexlive

Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change, Government of India had drafted a notification of considering the Eco-Sensitive Zone around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary. As per the government, there are 60 days for people to raise objections before this notification is approved. Hence, people living in the Wayanad district are protesting in huge numbers. But what are the exact reasons for them to protest against this draft?

In this FAQ, we discuss the meaning of Eco-Sensitive Zone and why are people against it in Kerala

What does Eco-Sensitive Zone mean and what is its purpose?
Eco-Sensitive Zone means the fragile area that exists within 10 kilometres of protected areas like National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries. The purpose of marking an Eco-Sensitive Zone is to create a kind of shock-absorber around the protected areas.

Who declares the Eco-Sensitive Zone around protected areas?
The Eco-Sensitive Zone around protected areas are declared by the Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India.

Why are people in Kerala protesting against declaring ESZ around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary?
The MoEFCC's draft notification of considering ESZ around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary is highly opposed by people in Wayanad because the ESZ consists of many human settlements and the new declaration will make them homeless. According to people, if the notification is approved, then  30 per cent of Wayanad will come under the ESZ.

What does the draft notification by Central Government say?
As per the draft notification, the proposed ESZ around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary will include an area of 118.59 kilometer out of which 90 per cent of this area largely consists of human settlements. This includes 8.89 km of Tirunelly Reserve Forest and 17.67 km of Chedelaythu range and both are rich in biodiversity.

What are the activities prohibited around ESZ?
Commercial mining, stone quarrying, crushing units, setting up industries that cause pollution, establishment of hydro-electric projects, commercial use of firewood, solid waste disposal or wastewater disposal and many other activities are prohibited or banned around ESZ.

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