Analysing India’s Environmental Protection Laws With Regards To Eco Sensitive Zone

A Supreme Court bench led by Justice L Nageswara Rao and including Justices B R Gavai and Aniruddha Bose ruled on 3 June 2022 that each national park or wildlife sanctuary must have an ESZ (Eco Sensitive Zone) of at least one kilometre measured from the demarcated boundary of such protected forest, within which the activities prescribed in the guidelines of 9 February 2011 shall be strictly adhered to.

The Court determined that no new permanent buildings are allowed in the ESZ. Case: T N Godavarman Thirumulpad v Union of India and Ors. Residents of the Nilgiris in the Western Ghats filed Writ Petition (C) No. 202 of 1995 under Article 32 of the Constitution, according to the Indian Kanoon website.  The petitioner alleged that respondents of  Tamil Nadu, Nilgiri, Gudalur destroyed the tropical rainforest in the Gudalur and Nilgiri areas in violation of the Indian Forest Act of 1927). The petitioner argues this has generated ecological imbalances that imperil Tamil Nadu’s population.

Residents fear the Supreme Court verdict will hurt their capacity to make a living. In Kerala’s Idukki, Kottayam, Pathanamthitta, and Wayanad districts, there’s been disturbance. Protesters estimate that at least 400,000 acres of human habitation and farming land in Kerala would be harmed, which will affect lakhs of people in these regions. Rahul Gandhi, a congressman from Wayanad, wrote to the Prime Minister asking the federal and state governments to petition the CEC and the Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change to decrease the minimum width of an ESZ (MoEF&CC).

The Supreme Court considered commission and government recommendations. National parks and wildlife refuges are bordered by ESZs or EFAs. MoEF&CC notifies the Indian government of any ESZs that should be formed under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986. Section 3 of this Act allows the federal government to adopt environmental protection and enhancement measures. This legislation does not limit the federal government’s power to maintain and improve environmental quality through preventing, regulating, and mitigating environmental pollution. To achieve this purpose, the federal government may restrict particular businesses, activities, or procedures in specified geographic regions.

In 2002, the Indian Board for Wildlife proposed a 10-km ESZ around all protected areas. Limit mining and building in wilderness. Many governments said the 10-kilometer radius would include national parks, animal sanctuaries, and tiger reserves. Under the Environmental (Protection) Act, 1986, land within 10 km of national parks and wildlife sanctuaries must be declared as EFAs or ESZs (2002-16).

Since 2006, the Supreme Court has established various deadlines for ESZs, and in 2011, the government released instructions. State governments regularly ignore this. Kerala’s wildlife reserves cover 8,000,000 acres. A 1-kilometer ESZ would include 4 lakh acres of human population and farming. This threatens hundreds of lives.

ESZs are not meant to restrict inhabitants’ typical activities, but to safeguard wilderness areas and “refine their environment.” Laws restrict tree felling, commercial mining, sawmills, and commercial wood use in ESZs. Finally, rainwater collection and organic farming are allowed.

The ESZ outlawed long-term building and natural resource extraction. Farmers’ groups and political parties contended that all human settlements should be excluded from the ESZ judgement due to excessive population density near the protected zones. India is one of the

5.27 percent of the country’s land area, or 1,73,306.83 square km, is protected to conserve its flora and animals. 106 national parks, 565 wildlife sanctuaries, 100 conservation reserves, 219 community reserves. Environmental preservation is a major issue given our second-largest population. We can’t enforce an universal set of regulations across India, therefore we must adjust our judgements and directions to particular areas.