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12 years and running: JK late in declaring Eco-Sensitive Zones around parks, sanctuaries

Hirra Azmat

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Srinagar, Dec 21: Despite Supreme Court directions, the state’s progress in declaring several national parks and sanctuaries as Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ) has been far from satisfactory.

The ESZ are formed to serve as “shock absorber” for protected areas.

The basic aim is to regulate certain activities around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries to minimise negative impact on the fragile ecosystem around.

 

Also the activities conducted in eco-sensitive zones are regulated under the Environment (Protection Act) of 1986 and no polluting industry or mine is allowed to come up in such areas.

Industries classified as prohibited under guidelines for declaration of eco-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries are not allowed to operate in these zones.

In 2006, the Supreme Court had directed all the states to safeguard protected areas by surrounding them with a buffer of ecologically fragile areas or ESZs.

On December 11, 2018, the apex court noticed that and ordered, “Under the circumstances, we direct that an area of 10 kilometre around 21 national parks and wildlife sanctuaries be declared as ESZs by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC). The declaration be made by the ministry at the earliest.”

However, a decade after the Supreme Court envisaged declaring areas within 10 km of the boundary of national parks and sanctuaries as Eco-Sensitive Zones, several parks and sanctuaries from the state are yet to be included.

The protected areas excluded under the eco-sensitive zones are Hemis High Altitude National Park, Kishtewar National Park, Changthang Sanctuary, Hokersar Sanctuary, and Trikuta Sanctuary.

State Wildlife authorities said the work on demarcating the ecologically-sensitive zones around national parks and sanctuaries has already begun and is likely to be completed soon.

Environmental lawyer, Nadeem Qadri said, “We have already prepared a draft plan for the protected areas. However, the delay is on part of the Central Government. Also, there’s huge political intervention delaying the entire initiative.”

Chief Wildlife Warden Jammu and Kashmir, Rashid Naqash, said, “Proposals for all National Parks and Wildlife sanctuaries have been forwarded by the Government to the ministry of Environment Forests and climate change for declaring and notifying eco-sensitive zones around these areas.”


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Upcoming snow spell: Avalanche warning issued for Kashmir, Ladakh districts

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Srinagar, Jan 19: Kashmir areas experienced fresh snowfall on Saturday, with the weather office forecasting more in store for the next three days.
“A western disturbance (WD) is presently active over the state under whose influence moderate to heavy snowfall is likely to occur in the valley till January 23 after which the intensity of the WD will start decreasing,” a Met Department official said here.
District administrations have set up helplines to help prevent any untoward incident due to the heavy snowfall.
Meanwhile Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Baseer Ahmad Khan Saturday issued fresh avalanche warning for nine avalanche prone districts of Kashmir division.
The warning has been issued for the avalanche-prone areas of district Anantnag, Kulgam, Budgam, Baramulla, Kupwara, Bandipora, Ganderbal, Kargil and Leh.
As per the hand out, the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir has directed the Deputy Commissioners of all these districts to advise the people living in avalanche prone areas not to venture out to avoid the loss of lives.
The Div Com also directed the concerned DC’s to take all the precautionary measures and to keep the SDRF, Police and Para-medical staff with ambulances in readiness to avert any untoward incident.
While the nightlong cloud cover increased minimum temperatures throughout the valley on Saturday, the maximum temperatures are expected to drop further, the weather official said.
Srinagar recorded minus 2.0 degrees Celsius, Pahalgam minus 4.4 and Gulmarg minus 7.0 as the minimum temperatures.
Leh town had minus 9.2 degrees Celsius and Kargil minus 18.9 as the night’s lowest temperature.
Jammu city recorded 8.3 degrees Celsius, Katra 9.1, Batote 3.9, Bannihal 2.3 and Bhaderwah 1.3 as the minimum temperatures.

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UN clearly did its job: Guterres on Kashmir human rights report

Agencies

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United Nations: United Nations Secretary General Antonio Guterres on Friday hoped that India and Pakistan will engage in a “meaningful dialogue” to resolve their issues.
The UN chief also said he has been offering his “good offices in relation to the dialogue between the two countries that, until now, had no conditions of success.”
Guterres was speaking to reporters at the UN headquarters in New York.
“I hope that the importance of both India and Pakistan is such in international affairs, I hope that the two countries will be able to engage in a meaningful dialogue,” he said.
The UN chief was responding to a question on his repeated urging of dialogue between the two South Asian neighbours.
In relation to the human rights situation, the Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights has produced recently a very detailed report. So, the UN has clearly done its job in that regard, Guterres said to a question by a Pakistan journalist on the situation in Kashmir.

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Day after grenade attack, forces conduct search op in Lal Chowk

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Srinagar: A joint search operation was launched by the forces and police in the commercial Hub Lal Chowk area of Srinagar on Saturday.
The search came a day after the grenade attack took place in the locality, which left a vehicle and windowpanes of some shops damaged.
Witnesses said that a large contingent of police and paramilitary troopers were deployed near the Clock Tower here while the frisking was also intensified.
They said that drones too were used during the operation.
However, a top police official said that it was a routine exercise ahead of upcoming Republic Day.

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