Bannerghatta’s eco zone cut will help illegal mining: Activists

Bengaluru: The Bannerghatta's Ecological Sensitive Zone (ESZ), which was mired in a controversy over illegal mining, has been reduced by 100 sqkm. From its first draft notification the ESZ, which was 268.96 sqkm, the government in the new draft has reduced it to 168.84 sqkm.

In 2013, the Union Environment Ministry had directed all the chief secretaries of all states, including Union Territories, to set 10km from the boundary of protected areas as “ecological sensitive zones”.

After illegal mining started in Bannerghatta zone, many nearby villagers had complained that their houses had developed cracks and that stone shrapnel were flying from the illegal mines, endangering their lives. Farmers were also forced to stop their agricultural activities because of large amounts of dust killing their crops.

Activists and villagers were distressed by the rampant quarrying on the periphery of Bannerghatta National Park.

“This shrinking of the ecological sensitive zone is sure to bring back all the illegal mining back to their business. It will surely destroy the forest for sure" an acitivist told DC, who did not wish to be named.

The government’s new draft notification will come into effect on December 30. “We are not going to keep quiet. We have already started sharing messages on the damage this reduction of ESZ could unleash. We have been asking citizens to file their objections,” an activist said.

Mr Suresh N.R., convener, United Bengaluru, alleged that the park's eco zone was cut due to political pressure. “The new notification has to be opposed for the good of our environment. Bannerghatta being at the edge of the city should be protected in all possible ways from urbanisation. Activities like mining will surely disturb the peace of animals,” he said

MP Rajeev Chandrasekhar appealed to all citizens to oppose the “brazen takeover” of Bannerghatta. He requested the people to oppose this move by the government to help their mining friends.

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