GUWAHATI, June 22 - Declaration of Kaziranga National Park�s peripheries as an eco-sensitive zone continues to hang fire even after three years of the government preparing a draft proposal in this regard, with conservationists now raising doubts over the government�s commitment to protect the pristine habitat.
The draft proposal for the Kaziranga Eco-Sensitive Zone was prepared on June 18, 2015 based on the feedbacks received from the public on an approach paper published in April that year. Based on the suggestions and modifications in the map, a revised draft proposal was prepared on July 10, 2015. The proposed eco-sensitive zone of Kaziranga encompasses parts of four districts, one autonomous council and involves several stakeholder departments and institutions.
Later in February 2016, the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, after deliberating on the proposal, flagged some issues and asked the State government to send a revised proposal. Since then, there has been no progress.
Sources told The Assam Tribune that many quarters, backed by industry lobbies, particularly those in Karbi Anglong and Nagaon, had been opposing the move.
A few months back, the Additional Chief Secretary (Forest) had convened a meeting with officials and had directed them to prepare a proposal by shrinking the earlier proposed area which many felt was not practical.
According to the proposal prepared earlier, several activities would be prohibited in the eco-sensitive zone, like commercial mining, saw mills, polluting industries, setting up of big industries or power plants, production of hazardous substances, discharge of effluents into water bodies, etc. No new hotels would be permitted within 1 km radius of the national park or sanctuaries, included in the eco-sensitive zone. Many other activities would also be regulated.
The proposal will, however, promote activities like home-stays to benefit the local communities. It had earmarked a separate eco-tourism zone for the benefit of the communities.