The Supreme Court On December 1, exempted Maharashtra’s Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWS) from its June order mandating the creation of a 1 km eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) around all protected areas in India.
About Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary
- Tungareshwar wildlife sanctuary or Tungareshwar National Park is situated on a plateau east of Vasai and Virar in Maharashtra’s Palghar district.
- It is located at the northern periphery of Mumbai, spreading across 85 sq km area. It forms a corridor between the Borivali National Park and Tansa Wildlife Sanctuary.
- The wildlife sanctuary has three different types of forests – Dry Deciduous, Moist Deciduous and Semi Evergreen.
- It has rich biodiversity, with diverse populations of flora and fauna.
- It is currently facing challenges from irresponsible tourism, deforestation, illegal construction, encroachments for agricultural activities and hunting.
SC’s ESZ mandate
- On June 3, 2022, the Supreme Court had directed all protected forest, national park and wildlife sanctuaries across India to have a mandatory eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) of a minimum of 1 km starting from their demarcated boundaries.
- The ESZs are set up around the protected areas as a “shock observer”. They act as a transition zone from the areas with high protection to those having lesser protection.
Why was Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary exempted from SC order mandating the creation of 1 km-ESZ?
- The Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary was exempted by the Supreme Court mandate of creating 1 km ESZ due to practical difficulties and ground realities.
- The SC Bench observed that there were instances involving notified forests expand to reach into city areas where urban activities may have been taking place for the past several years.
- The order for exemption was given while hearing the plea filed by CREDAI-MCHI, a body consisting of members from the real estate sector in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region.
- It took into account the earlier order exempting the Sanjay Gandhi National Park and Thane Creek Flamingo Sanctuary in Mumbai.