Forest Department officials have convened a meeting of people’s representatives of Thattekad area on Monday to explain the modifications to be introduced in the Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) notification of Thattekad Bird Sanctuary. The meeting comes in the wake of the expert committee for the declaration of ESZ around protected areas, including wildlife sanctuaries, national parks and tiger reserves, rejecting the proposed notification for the sanctuary. While notifying the ESZ, an extent of one kilometre around the boundary of Thattekad Bird Sanctuary was considered and the eastern and south-eastern sides of the protected area were left out. Thus, an area of 16 sq km was notified as the ESZ with an extent ranging from zero to one kilometre from the boundary of the sanctuary.
After the draft notification was out, local protests had surfaced asking the authorities to exclude the human habitations from the ambit of ESZ.
The officials excluded the human habitations and agricultural holdings from the purview of the ESZ considering the “high density human habitation on these sides.” Forest officials who presented the case of the sanctuary before the panel also stated that people were apprehensive about restrictions the notification could bring on agriculture and allied activities.
However, the expert committee members pointed out that there was no prohibition on agriculture practices within the ESZ. They also wanted the scope of expanding the ESZ extent from zero to a suitable distance on the eastern and south-eastern direction, in particular from GPS points 15 to 17 to be considered, where waterbodies existed. The panel also wanted the proposal to be suitably revised and submitted.
The Wildlife Warden, Idukki, said expert committee members suggested including two or three waterbodies, which were part of the Periyar, in the ESZ of the sanctuary. The revised ESZ will be submitted after including these areas. The proposal will be explained at the meeting of people’s representatives, to be held on Monday, he said.