16 July 2020.
Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEF&CC) on 16th July,2020 approved the Zonal Master Plan (ZMP) prepared by the Government of Uttarakhand and Ministry of Jal Shakti.This was announced by Shri Prakash Javdekar in a video conference review meeting of the Char Dham Road Project.
- The Bhagirathi Eco-Sensitive Zone notification from Gaumukh to Uttarakashi covering an area of 4179.59 sq. kilometer was issued by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change(MoEF&CC) on 18th December 2012 keeping in view the requirements of the local people without affecting their rights and privileges and also ensuring eco-friendly development for their livelihood security.
- The notification was subsequently amended on 16th April, 2018 .
- The ZMP is based on watershed approach and includes governance in the area of forest and wildlife, watershed management, irrigation, energy, tourism, public health and sanitation, road infrastructure, etc.
- The approval of ZMP will give a boost to conservation and ecology of the area and also to undertake developmental activities as permitted under ZMP.
About Bhagirthi Eco-Sensitive Zone:
- It covers a watershed of about 100 kilometres stretch of the river Bhagirathi from Gaumukh to Uttarakashi covering an area of 4179.59 square km.
- This zone is located in the upper Himalayas. It is an interdependent fragile Ganga- Himalayan basin.
- The area falls under the Higher Himalyas and Garwhal lesser Himalayas.
What are the Eco-sensitive Zones (ESZs)?
- Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
- They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
How are they demarcated?
- The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
- However, Section 3(2)(v) of the Act, says that Central Government can restrict areas in which any industries, operations or processes or class of industries, operations or processes shall be carried out or shall not, subject to certain safeguards.
- Besides Rule 5(1) of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 states that central government can prohibit or restrict the location of industries and carrying on certain operations or processes on the basis of certain considerations.
- The same criteria have been used by the government to declare No Development Zones (NDZs).
Defining its boundaries
- An ESZ could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002.
- Moreover, in the case where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are beyond 10 km width, these should be included in the ESZs.
- Further, even in the context of a particular Protected Area, the distribution of an area of ESZ and the extent of regulation may not be uniform all around and it could be of variable width and extent.