Green Minute News
In an assurance that has brought cheers to activists and environmentalists spearheading the Bannerghatta ESZ issue, Union Environment, forests and climate change Minister Prakash Javadekar has said that the reduction in the eco sensitive zone (ESZ) of Bannerghatta National Park, the last remaining lung space of Bengaluru will be looked into.
Appealing for stringent measures and immediate action to retain the original ESZ, Tejasvi Surya, Bangalore South MP had written to the Minister expressing that the national park’s ESZ reduction had resulted in indiscriminate and illegal residential layouts, a bottling plant and commercial activity with concerned authorities failing to take any action.
The first time MP from Bengaluru voicing his serious concern said, “Environment around Bengaluru is of great importance as this green patch is very close to the city and moderates its climate. But the ESZ being reduced by 100 square kilometers and excluding 61 villages, it will open up more areas for mining, real estate and commercial development. In the original draft notification, the ESZ was 268 sq kms which would have acted as a cushion while later another ESZ notification in 2018, it was reduced to 168 sq kms.”
Even before the revised draft notification of 2018 could be finalized, all concerned departments including the state forest department have been totally inactive not taking any action against illegal activities despite the 10 KM default ESZ prevailing. Surya stresses, “This has given rise to new residential layouts and industrial activities including a bottled water plant being taken up in the ESZ despite prohibition of such activities in this zone. Further, all kinds of illegal activities like quarrying, felling of trees and excavation work has commenced without the required sanction, permission for such activities but where criminal intent cannot be ruled out.”
The reduction of ESZ is primarily in the areas north of Bannerghatta towards Kanakpura and Bengaluru where granite and stone mining and real estate sector is active. The revised draft has reduced the ESZ extent to a mere 100 meters (in these areas) while it is one kilometer in other places. There were massive public objections and the lodging of a petition against the reduction in ESZ area and extent. But with new developments which are illegal in the ESZ area, it merits the attention of the MoEF, the MP has stated.
Surya adds, “Despite 50,000 people including farmers raising their objections and the CES, Indian Institute of Science giving a report on ‘safe zone’ for the national park, all kinds of commercial and industrial activities have been allowed to be taken up here. BNP has great significance to Bengaluru as a lung space, and so for a city of great strategic importance to India, every effort should be made to ensure its protection.”