Supreme Court issue new directions for ESZ [3.6.2022] See Legal Eagle (SC) 652

Supreme Court issue new directions for ESZ [3.6.2022]

New Delhi, 3.6.2022 : The Supreme Court on Friday directed that all national parks and wildlife sanctuaries in the country which fall under protected forest must earmark a minimum distance of one-kilometre as eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) where prohibited activities specified by the Centre, including mining and establishment of any new permanent structure will not be permitted.

The direction of the Court came on a bunch of applications filed in a pending petition filed by TN Godavarman, where the Court is suo moto passing orders for protection of forest resources. In the present order, the Court dealt with applications by private miners and states for prescribing ESZ surrounding wildlife sanctuaries and national parks, an issue pending in Court since 2003.Besides, the Court order also dealt with the issue of mining in and around the Jamua Ramgarh wildlife sanctuary, situated in Rajasthan.

A bench of justices L Nageswara Rao, BR Gavai and Aniruddha Bose said, “We direct that each protected forest, that is national park or wildlife sanctuary, must have an ESZ of minimum one kilometer measured from the demarcated boundary of such protected forest in which the activities proscribed and prescribed in the Guidelines of Ministry of Environment Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) on 9 February 2011 shall be strictly adhered to.”

Pointing to the role to be played by state in acting as trustee of natural resources more than facilitating economic activity in forests, Justice Bose who wrote the judgment for the bench said, “The state has to act as a trustee for the benefit of the general public in relation to the natural resources so that sustainable development can be achieved in the long term.”

IN the 61-page order, the Court further stated, “Such role of the state is more relevant today, than, possibly at any point of time in history, with the threat of climate catastrophe resulting from global warming looming large.

Due to the long passage of time, the Court noted that in December 2006, the Supreme Court in another case relating to Goa mining had passed a direction for maintaining 10-kilometre-wide safety zone from the boundaries in respect of sanctuaries and national parks. However, this did not deal with the minimum boundary for ESZ.

04 Jun 2022