The Controversy of Eco-Sensitive Zone around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary : Daily Current Affairs

The Controversy of Eco-Sensitive Zone around Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary

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The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change published a draft notification on 28th January to declare an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) — a buffer or transition zone around highly-protected areas — around the Wayanad wildlife sanctuary in Kerala.


With regard to the draft proposal, the ministry has invited objections and suggestions from the public that can be submitted within two months. Since then many objections have come up. Kerala Chief Minister and opposition leader have requested PM Modi to revoke the draft notification stating that it would influence the farmers living in closely populated areas coming under the proposed notified areas.

As the proposal is in English it has left many residents including tribals in confused state regarding the content of the draft and they are unaware about its impact if the proposal is passed. However, environmentalists have said that proposal is in no way going to harm or affect the livelihood of the people.

Salient Points of the Draft

An area of 118.59 square kilometers will be covered in the proposed zone of which 99.5 square kilometers is lying outside the sanctuary that is human inhabited area. There are 9 activities that are prohibited in proposed ESZ-

  1. Commercial mining, stone quarrying and crushing units are prohibited with the exception that if it is done to meet the domestic needs by the bonafide residents.
  2. Setting up of industries that cause air, noise, water, etc is prohibited.
  3. Setting up of major hydroelectric projects.
  4. Use or production or processing of any hazardous substances.
  5. Discharge of untreated effluents in natural water bodies or land area.
  6. Setting up new solid waste disposal site and waste treatment or processing facility for solid waste.
  7. Setting up of new or expansion of existing sawmills.
  8. Setting up of brick kilns.
  9. Commercial use of firewood.

Although tourist activities are allowed with some regulations but construction of new commercial hotels and resorts are not allowed in the ESZ.

Activities regulated as per applicable laws-

  1. Widening and restoring of existing roads and construction of new roads.
  2. Construction and revamping the infrastructure and civic amenities.
  3. Small- scale industries that do not cause pollution.
  4. Collection of forest produce or non-timber forest produce.
  5. Tourism –related activities.
  6. Assembling of electrical and communication towers.
  7. Movement of vehicular traffic.
  8. Ongoing agriculture and horticulture practices by locals.
  9. Eco-tourism

Prior permission is required if any tree is to be cut in private, revenue and government land within ESZ. Meanwhile, activities and establishment like cottage industries, including village artisans, agroforestry, plantation of horticulture and herbals, organic farming, restoration of degraded land or forests or habitat are some of the activities that are promoted.

This proposal is based on the concept that a wildlife sanctuary cannot be saved in confinement as an island, but activities in the zone around it should also be limited for its protection. The regulations mentioned in the draft notification is only a minimal intervention aimed at protecting the environment.

Political parties, Churches, have their own vested interest. Tribals and other locals want the draft notification to be published in Malayalam so that it can be easily understood.