Railway initiatives, small-scale growth works involving building over lower than 20,000 sq. metres, and under-25 MW capability hydropower vegetation will not require approval from the National Board for Wildlife (NBWL) even when they’re situated inside eco-sensitive zones (ESZs) of nationwide parks or wildlife sanctuaries, the surroundings ministry has mentioned.
ESZs of 10 km radius have been meant to be “shock absorbers” and transition zones from areas of excessive to low safety for wildlife and biodiversity, as per the ministry’s 2011 pointers on declaring such zones. The 2002 Wildlife Conservation Strategy additionally recommends a 10 km buffer round sanctuaries. The Supreme Court in December 2006 directed all states and Union territories to observe the technique whereas listening to a plea over a delay in declaring ESZs.
In letters dated July 24 and July 16 to chief secretaries of states and Union territories, the ministry mentioned NBWL’s nod might be wanted solely for initiatives that require prior surroundings clearance or are situated in areas linking one protected space to a different.
The ministry has accordingly modified the wording of the Handbook of Forest Conservation Act, 1980, which mentioned: “Prior recommendation of standing committee of NBWL under the provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, is also required for taking developmental activities in/over an area falling within eco sensitive zones. ” It now reads: “Prior recommendation of Standing Committee of NBWL under the provisions of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 shall be obtained, if required, for taking developmental activities in/over an area falling within eco sensitive zones.”
The July 16 letter clarifies that proposals associated to initiatives inside a notified ESZ and people who require prior surroundings clearance may also require NBWL’s nod. It provides people who do not have a notified ESZ would require an NBWL nod provided that the proposal requires prior surroundings clearance and is situated inside a 10 km radius of a protected space. Proposals for initiatives to be situated in a hall connecting one protected space to a different may also require NBWL’s approval.
Rest of the initiatives are exempt from NBWL’s consent. “State governments are requested not to insist upon wildlife clearance for such development projects outside protected areas that are not covered under para 3 [conditions listed above],” the July 16 letter mentioned. HT has seen a duplicate of the letter.
HT on August 17 final yr reported that the ministry had printed an workplace memorandum saying initiatives outdoors the boundary of a notified ESZ of a sanctuary or nationwide park however inside its 10 km radius will not want prior clearance from NBWL.
Such proposals will get environmental clearance from the ministry’s professional appraisal committee, which may also guarantee “appropriate conservation measures in the form of recommendations.” The memorandum nullified earlier workplace memoranda of February 2007 and December 2009, which made NBWL’s approval necessary for initiatives inside a park’s 10 km radius.
The ministry’s clarifications go a step additional and say smaller initiatives, which do not fall below the purview of Environment Impact Assessment Notification, 2006, do not want to hunt wildlife clearance regardless of the place they’re situated in buffer zones. Inland waterways and railways are additionally exempt from prior environmental clearance and therefore may also be exempt from NBWL’s approval even when they fall in ESZs of protected areas.
“Only projects that are eligible for prior EC [environmental clearance] will also need a wildlife clearance if they are located in the notified ESZ of a protected area or within a 10 km radius where ESZ is not notified,” mentioned surroundings ministry secretary R P Gupta.
Kanchi Kohli, a authorized researcher at New Delhi’s Centre for Policy Research, mentioned the clarifications learn down the significance of ecologically delicate areas by introducing phrases like “if necessary” on the subject of scrutiny. She cited social conflicts associated to ESZ creation.
“However one cannot rule out their importance as buffers or corridors that help protect biodiverse habitats. This is important more than ever before to mitigate climate change and prevent ecologically destructive regulatory decisions.”