Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs)
or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC), Government of India around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
- The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas such as National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries by regulating and managing the activities around such areas. They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection. Thus prohibition of all kinds of human activities, in those zones except agriculture is not the prime objective of eco sensitive zones.
- ESZ is notified under Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.
ESZ Guidelines classify activities under three categories:
Prohibited: Commercial Mining, Setting of Saw Mill, Setting of industries causing pollution, establishment of major hydroelectric projects etc.
Regulated: Felling of Trees, Establishment of hotels and resorts, erection of electrical cables, drastic change of agricultural systems etc.
Permitted: Ongoing agriculture and horticulture practices by local communities, rain water harvesting, organic farming etc.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park in Mumbai has been notified as Eco-sensitive zone.
It is important to take on board perceptions of the civil society
and local bodies, especially the zilha, taluk and gram panchayats, to decide on areas that they consider to be ecologically and environmentally sensitive. Of course, these perceptions will depend on the proposed management regime.