According to norms, no form of mining or industrial activity, tree felling, can be undertaken in Eco-Sensitive Zones.

Activists to oppose reducing buffer zone in Bengalurus Bannerghatta National Park
news Environment Monday, February 24, 2020 - 19:15

To oppose the proposed reduction of the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of the Bannerghatta National Park by 100 sq km, activists, resident welfare associations (RWAs) and farmers living in the park periphery, will submit a fresh petition to Karnataka Chief Minister BS Yediyurappa. 

All stakeholders under the Namma Bengaluru Foundation's United Bengaluru campaign, who met on Monday, said that they want the original 268 sq km of area marked as an ESZ zone as per a 2016 draft notification to remain so. This draft notification was passed based on 2011 guidelines issued by the Union Environment Ministry. 

This comes after it came to light last week that the CM had written a letter to Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar dated February 1, seeking reduction of the ESZ by 100 sq km. This was apparently agreed on in early 2019 at a state-Centre meeting during the 33rd ESZ Expert Committee meet. 

Environmentalists believe that maintaining the status quo in ESZs is important to protect wildlife, reduce human-animal conflicts and also preserve the natural flora and fauna of the area.

According to norms, no form of mining or industrial activity, tree felling, or exploitation of natural resources can be undertaken in ESZ zones. Therefore, activists say that not only will the reduction in the ESZ be damaging for all residents, it will help the mining and real estate lobby.

Read: Despite outrage, K’taka CM asks Centre to reduce buffer zone of Bannerghatta Park

Srinivas, a farmer who was present on Monday’s meeting, said, “There is huge pressure from the real estate and mining mafia. We are getting life threats. We are living here since many generations and this land gives us our livelihood. We are not sure if the honourable CM knows about our plight. The government took an oath to save farmers, and now, we see that the government itself is putting us at risk. We request the CM to save the ESZ and in turn, save us.”

Vijay Nishanth, an environmentalist, said, “We will not let this (reduction in the ESZ) happen. We will protest if our petition is not accepted. This proposal will damage not only the city of Bengaluru but will make living there unbearable. And it will destroy the future of the next generation. It's complete hypocrisy on the state government’s part where it is supporting vested interests and the real estate lobby in the name of development, and taking entire people of Bengaluru for a ride.”

Harish Kumar, General Manager of Namma Bengaluru Foundation, a non-profit run by BJP MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar said that they are confident that the government will heed to the request of its people. He said that even though the government has changed (from the Congress-JD(S) alliance before), the real estate and mining lobby has continued to play its role in influencing this decision.

“They (real estate and mining lobby) don’t realise that it is their own children’s health that they will put at risk. We will take steps that are legally available and see if we can get this move of government stopped. If nothing works, then we will think of going to courts too,” Harish said.

Agriculture-practising residents of the ESZ also supported the environmental activists’ arguments. 

 

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