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.