In a bid to protect the eco-sensitive zones or ecologically fragile areas, the top court of India has come up with several directives. However, maximum of such implementations have gone for a toss in Jammu and Kashmir where even the Zonal Master plans have not been prepared despite the fact that the district panels have been constituted in January this year.
There are in fact four types of wildlife areas here including National Park, Wildlife Sanctuary, Wetland reserves and conservation reserves, which are also known as protected areas. The idea of eco-sensitive zones is to create buffer zones around the wildlife sanctuaries and National park with an aim to protect the areas.
As part of the ‘Wildlife Conservation Strategy’, adopted in 2002, the 10-km radius of the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries are demarcated as ‘eco-fragile zones’ while the fresh verdict by the Supreme Court has declared all places within one kilometer around ‘protected areas’ as eco-sensitive zones.
Under the Wildlife Protection Act, some activities are prohibited in these areas while some limited activities are regulated. Nonetheless, the directives issues have not been implemented the way it should have been as the negative impact of industrialisation and unplanned development in and around the protected areas has taken toll on the sanctuaries as well as the wildlife population.
Defying the directives of the top court of India in certain ways have now pushed the wild animals to come out of the protected areas and enter into the habitations that has many a times led to the death of children as well as the other young and elderly people as well.
Such incidents are testimony to the fact that the mandatory directions, especially prohibiting of the constructions, commercial use of wood, industries causing air, water, soil, noise or other pollution and other things, if prevented, would have helped in protecting the eco-sensitive zones and thwarted the man-animal conflict to a large extent.
Amidst the noncompliance, Jammu and Kashmir has failed to even prepare the Zonal Master Plans for eco-sensitive zones in the manner as specified in the guidelines issued by the central government. Under this plan, the concerned authorities come up with a white paper in which the activities—both prohibited and regulated are mentioned.
The delay in preparing the plan is indicating the non-seriousness of the concerned authorities in dealing with the sensitive issue and the proper implementation of the SC directives. The time has come when the words and verdicts are to be taken seriously to ensure the ecologically fragile areas are protected. In this juncture, the preparation of zonal master plans is imperative and must not be delayed any further.