Published on: June 3, 2022



Why in news?

The Supreme Court directed that every protected forest, national park and wildlife sanctuary across the country should have a mandatory eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of a minimum one km starting from their demarcated boundaries.


  • Environment Ministry guidelines show that the purpose of declaring ESZs around national parks, forests and sanctuaries is to create some kind of a “shock absorber” for the protected areas. These zones would act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to those involving lesser protection.

 The court’s observation on Sustainable development

  • The State also has to act as a trustee for the benefit of the general public in relation to the natural resources so that sustainable development could be achieved in the long term.
  • In a series of directions, the court held that in case any national park or protected forest already has a buffer zone extending beyond one km, that would prevail.
  • In case the question of the extent of buffer zone was pending a statutory decision, then the court’s direction to maintain the one-km safety zone would be applicable until a final decision is arrived at under the law.
  • The court directed that “mining within the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries shall not be permitted”.
  • It held the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Home Secretaries of States responsible for the compliance of the judgment.
  • The Principal Chief Conservator for each State and the Union Territory has also been directed to make a list of subsisting structures within the ESZs and submit reports to the apex court in three months.