Around 25 kilometres from Bengaluru lies the ecologically sensitive zones (ESZ) around the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP), one that is in a conflict between political parties and environmentalists.
The Environment Ministry of Karnataka has suggested this ESZ be brought down to 100 meters from 10 kilometres, facing sharp criticism from residents in and around the area.
A draft notification prepared by the forest department proposed 268.96 sq km around BNP as ESZ, but political pressures caused the suggestion to be reduced to 181.57 sq km.
Environmentalists say this was done to safeguard the interests of the stone quarry owners and the illegal sand mafia operating in the area.
Like most biodiversity rich areas near cities, the Bannerghatta park is subject to many threats from the Bengaluru’s growing population.
But this could change soon if the Supreme Court passes an order that may bring some much-needed relief for the villagers and the wildlife around the ESZ, the Bangalore Mirror reported.
The Supreme court noted a grave discrepancy and questioned the Environment Ministry’s move to shrink the ESZ area from 10 kilometers to around 100 meters. The apex court will examine the need for such a requirement.
Environmentalist AN Yelappa Reddy said to BM, “The fight for marking the ESZ caught momentum in 2014 after vast areas of the green belt were denotified by consecutive state governments for industrial purpose. These arbitrary steps are now bearing fruits regarding climate change.”
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Bannerghatta National Park, which is one of the last surviving lung spaces of the city, has been subject to many ecologically hazardous changes. Over the years, the ESZ has already come down in size to a significant extent.
The recent SC ruling will have an impact on this proposal. If ordered, the ministry will be left with no choice but to review it.