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Eco-sensitive zone of the Deepar Beel Wildlife Sanctuary notified:

GS Paper 3

Topics Covered: Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment.

 

Context:

Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change has notified the eco-sensitive zone of the Deepar Beel Wildlife Sanctuary on the south-western edge of Guwahati.

  • The notification specified an area “to an extent varying from 294 metres to 16.32 km” as the eco-sensitive zone, with the total area being 148.9767 sq. km.

 

Need for:

The wetland has for decades been threatened by a railway track — set to be doubled and electrified — on its southern rim, a garbage dump, and encroachment from human habitation and commercial units.

 

Implications of the latest move:

  1. No new commercial hotels and resorts shall be permitted within 1 km of the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of the eco-sensitive zone, whichever is nearer, except for small temporary structures for eco-tourism activities.
  2. Among activities prohibited in the eco-sensitive zone are hydroelectric projects, brick kilns, commercial use of firewood and discharge of untreated effluents in natural water bodies or land areas.

 

About Deepar Beel:

Deepar Beel is one of the largest freshwater lakes in Assam and the State’s only Ramsar site besides being an Important Bird Area.

  • It is a permanent freshwater lake, in a former channel of the Brahmaputra River, to the south of the main river.

 

Why this wetland needs protection?

The wetland of Deepar Beel constitutes a unique habitat for aquatic flora and avian fauna.

  • About 150 species of birds have been recorded in the sanctuary, out of which two are critically endangered, one endangered, five vulnerable and four near-threatened.
  • Elephants regularly visit the wetland from adjoining Rani and Garhbhanda Reserve Forest and the wetland is an integral part of the elephant habitat.
  • Besides these, 12 species of reptiles, 50 species of fish, six species of amphibians along with 155 species of aquatic macro-biota have been recorded in the sanctuary.

 

What are the Eco-sensitive Zones (ESZs)?

  1. Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZs) or Ecologically Fragile Areas (EFAs) are areas notified by the MoEFCC around Protected Areas, National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
  2. The purpose of declaring ESZs is to create some kind of “shock absorbers” to the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas.
  3. They also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection.
  4. The Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 does not mention the word “Eco-Sensitive Zones”.
  5. An ESZ could go up to 10 kilometres around a protected area as provided in the Wildlife Conservation Strategy, 2002.
  6. Moreover, in the case where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecologically important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are beyond 10 km width, these should be included in the ESZs.

 

Insta Curious:

Recently, four more sites got Ramsar Recognition. Which are those sites? Reference: read this.

 

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. How an eco-sensitive zone is declared?
  2. How is it declared?c
  3. Boundaries.
  4. About Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary.
  5. About Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve.

Mains Link:

Discuss the need for eco sensitive zones around the protected areas.

Sources: the Hindu.