SC Expressed Surprise On Centre’s decision About The Buffer Zone

bufferzoneBy Accommodation Times Bureau

A bench of justices MB Lokur and Deepak Gupta has expressed their worries on
hearing a case that challenged the environmental clearance given to an industrial
unit situated within the 10-kilometre radius of Dadra and Nagar Haveli Wildlife
Sanctuary. The Supreme Court uttered that “It is extremely surprising that the 10-
kms eco-sensitive zone has been reduced by the Ministry of Environment and
Forest (MoEF) to 100 metres. Since an order of this nature is capable of destroying
national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country, we would like to examine
the validity of this reduction ”.
“Prima facie, it appears to us, a complete arbitrary exercise of power by the
Ministry of Environment and Forest,” it added.

The bench made track upon one more recent but pending matter related to
environmental issues, which is listed for hearing on September 18, 2017. It
questioned additional solicitor general ANS Nandkarni, appearing for the centre, as
to whether the government wishes to destroy wildlife, sanctuaries, reserved forests,
rivers and mountains in the country. “You (centre) have to satisfy us, on the point
as to how you intend to protect the wildlife and environment. Has the concept of
‘protected areas’ become irrelevant now?” the bench asked strictly.

The Wildlife Board of India had adopted the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, in
2002, under which it was expressed that land domiciliation within a 10-km radius
of the boundaries of the national parks/wildlife sanctuaries, should be essentially
notified as Eco-Fragile Zones, under the provisions of the Environmental
Protection Act.
The National Green Tribunal, in 2013, had harshly banned construction and halted
53 residential projects being built within a 10-km radius of Okhla Bird Sanctuary.
It had also pulled up the Noida Authority and the MoEF, for their failure to take
action against the violators.
The apex court had indorsed the stand of the centre, earmarking a 10-km radius as
buffer zone, around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. However, since 2015,
the MoEF, has reduced the buffer zone radius from 10 kms to 100 metres.

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