Ecozone proposals on 3 sanctuaries rejected

Govt. excluded densely populated areas around Thattekkad, Aralam and Idukki

The exclusion of highly populated areas near the Thattekkad, Aralam and Idukki Wildlife Sanctuaries from the ambit of Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) notification has been rejected by an expert committee.

The 44th meeting of the committee for the declaration of ESZ around protected areas, held last month, wanted Kerala to reconsider the notifications of these sanctuaries. In the case of Thattekkad, the State did not mark any ESZ on the eastern and south-eastern side of the protected area considering the density of population in these parts.

The park managers of Aralam sanctuary also excluded some highly populated areas in its south-western boundary. The ESZ was proposed only on the north-western direction of the Idukki sanctuary, excluding all other sides of the protected area.

The State justified the marking of the zero zones in these sanctuaries by highlighting the high human density and popular apprehension that farming activities may be hit in these areas.

However, the panel observed that the justification given by the State Government was not acceptable and shall be re-examined. It also noted that there was no prohibition in agriculture practices within the ESZ. It was the responsibility of the State government to dispel such wrong notions, it was noted.

At the same time, the ESZ proposals of Silent Valley National Park and Kottiyoor Wildlife Sanctuary were approved. The proposal of Malabar Wildlife Sanctuary will be reconsidered at the next meeting after incorporating the changes suggested at the meeting, revealed documents. The panel asked the authorities to remove MLAs from the monitoring committees of Idukki, Kottiyoor, and Malabar Wildlife Sanctuaries.

โ€˜Will revise proposalsโ€™

The zero ESZ proposals of Malabar sanctuary, which has a hydroelectric project in the southern side and tribal and other settlements on the western and north-western sides, was approved by the committee as there was not much scope of ESZ extent in the southern and western sides, the documents revealed. Surendrakumar, Chief Wildlife Warden, Kerala, said the State would revise the ESZ proposals.

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