Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, December 20
Terming the demand of Chandigarh for declaring an area of 1 to 2 km around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) unjustified, the Punjab Government has written to the Union Ministry of Forests and Environment to accord approval for declaring a 100-metre area around Sukhna Lake an ESZ "urgently".
Dr Roshan Sunkaria, Additional Chief Secretary, Forests and Wildlife Preservation, Punjab, recently wrote two letters to the ministry justifying the stand of the state and stressed the need for notifying the ESZ in an area of 100 metres only.
Sunkaria said the decision of the state regarding the 100-metre ESZ area was based on the recommendation of a committee of the Supreme Court, submitted in 2012, which had recommended a 100-metre ESZ for sanctuaries which were less than 100 sq km in area. The Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary falls in this category as its area is 26 sq km.
The letter said a 100-metre area was sufficient to provide protection to the sanctuary.
“If an area of 1 to 2 km is declared an ESZ, as proposed by the UT Administration, not only will the ESZ area far exceed the actual area of the sanctuary, it will also cause hardships to the public living there,” it stated.
Also, only 6.10 km of the 36-km boundary of the sanctuary was shared by Punjab. The boundary shared by the state was abutted by forest areas, which acted as a buffer for the sanctuary.
The other part of the boundary of the sanctuary was very small (1.30 km), which was adjacent to the heavily inhabited area and agriculture fields of Kansal village. Villagers do not enjoy any rights in the sanctuary as the forest of this village was made a part of the sanctuary without the consent of the Punjab Government.
Under these circumstances, residents of the this area should not be burdened with more restrictions imposed under the ESZ. Therefore, the 100-metre ESZ proposed by the Punjab Government was appropriate. Already, the Government of India has declared 100-metre ESZs around other wildlife sanctuaries in Punjab.
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