The Indian Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has published a new notification to reduce the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Bannerghatta National Park in Bangalore city of India by 100 sq km.
The environmentalists and the concerned citizens of India are not having it as it will greatly disrupt the fragile ecosystem of the national park. The park is home to a number of species of flora and fauna (with India’s first biological park to have a fenced forested elephant sanctuary) and is also serves as a catchment area for the various cities water bodies.
According to the government proposal, ESZ will be reduced to just 169 sq km from the current 269 sq km and reduce the extent of the ESZ from a maximum of 4.5 to a maximum of 1 km.
An IISc study conducted by leading scientist TV Ramachandra in 2015 had stated that the present buffer zones are biologically and hydrologically sensitive zones. Mining in the area creates bottlenecks for animals which means that they can’t move around in their natural habitat and eventually leading to man-animal conflicts and poaching. Another recent study by the Indian Institute of Human Settlements said that preservation of this ESZ was important in protecting the city from becoming a heat island.
The park is threatened by multiple granite quarries operating around the national park. While there is a ban on mining and granite quarrying around the national park within a radius of One km from the boundary demarcated as “Safe Zone”, quarries operate unabatedly. Vehicular movement is also uncontrolled. Tremors from the explosives used in the quarry operations are felt across a radius of at least five km adversely affecting elephants and other wild animals.
The government has stated no specific reason for the notification but wildlife activists and environmentalists claim that it is in consultation with the state government, had made the changes from the first draft owing to the interests of mining and real estate mafia who are set to be the biggest beneficiaries of this new draft. There are also threats to the security of villagers due to the influence of the mining mafia.
“Reduction of ESZ will bear long-lasting consequences for Bengaluru. It will reduce the quality of life of Bengalureans and those living around Bannerghatta. Therefore, it’s imperative that the government does not reduce the area of ESZ and the government must work towards ensuring sustainable development that promotes ecological balance and enhances sustainability for all life, including humans in Bannerghatta and Bengaluru,” Suresh NR, convenor, United Bengaluru told India Today TV.