Activists oppose draft plan to trim eco-sensitive zone at Bannerghatta

Bengaluru: It is not even six months since the mining operations near the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) were shut down and the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) has come up with a new draft notification that trims the Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) by 100 sq km. The activists are preparing a petition against this draft notification.

One of the senior forest officials said that there will be a huge impact if the ESZ is reduced. “We are banking on the public opinion that is against the new draft notification and hopefully it will help us in future,” a senior official said.

The activists are of the view that the move will only help real estate lobby.

“Who else will benefit from such a move.  After a long struggle the mining operations were stopped and if implemented we are back to square one. The people of this city will not accept this since we want the original 268.96 sq km to be retained,” said Vijay Nishanth, a tree doctor.

The petition which the activists are preparing says the trimming of the area is in the north of the national park towards Kanakapura and Bengaluru, where grantite and stone mining take place and the real estate sector is active.

While the original draft had planned an ESZ between 100 m and 4.5 km from the forest boundary the new draft notification brings it between 100 m and 1 km. The original draft notification had 61 villages coming directly under the ESZ which could have provided a huge buffer to the national park.

Suresh N.R., convener of United Bengaluru, said that any change requires reason. “There could be political pressure and the reduction in ESZ will enhance human animal conflict. We saw Avni shot dead and more such instances will come to light if we encroach in their habitat,” he said.

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