SC bans mining within 1-km radius of wildlife sanctuaries, national parks

The Supreme Court released an order on June 3 that mining within one kilometer radius of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries shall no more be permitted.

Apart from this, the supreme court has also issues directives that each protected forest must have an eco-sensitive zone of at least one kilometer measured from the marked boundary of such protected forests where the activities prescribed in the Guidelines of February 9, 2011, shall be strictly followed. For the Jamua Ramgarh wildlife sanctuary, it shall be 500 meters so far as subsisting activities are concerned.

The directives were passed by a Bench of Justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and Aniruddha Bose. “In the event, however, the ESZ is already prescribed as per law that goes beyond one kilometer buffer zone, the wider margin as ESZ shall prevail. If such wider buffer zone beyond one kilometer is proposed under any statutory instrument for a particular national park or wildlife sanctuary awaiting final decision in that regard, then till such final decision is taken, the ESZ covering the area beyond one kilometer as proposed shall be maintained,” the top court said.

The Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of individual States and Union Territories shall be held responsible for proper compliance with the mentioned guidelines regarding the nature of use within the ESZ of all national parks and sanctuaries.

The court also said, “In the event any activity is already being undertaken within the one kilometer or extended buffer zone (ESZ), as the case may be, of any wildlife sanctuary or national park which does not come within the ambit of prohibited activities as per the 9th February 2011 Guidelines, such activities may continue with permission of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of each State or Union Territory and the person responsible for such activities in such a situation shall obtain necessary permission within a period of six months. Such permission shall be given once the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests is satisfied that the activities concerned do not come within the prohibited list and were continuing prior to passing of this order in a legitimate manner. No new permanent structure shall be permitted to come up for whatsoever purpose within the ESZ.”

The Court’s direction came while dealing with the matter relating to protected natural forests.The petition continued with the cause title “in Re: T.N. Godavarman Thirumulpad v. Union of India and Ors” in which several orders have been passed to ensure preservation of forest resources of the country. With an order of this Court dated May 9, 2002, a Central Empowered Committee (CEC) was formed primarily for keeping an eye on the implementation of this Court’s orders and to figure out the incidents of non-compliance.

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