Goa decides to demarcate Ecosensitive Zones outside Protected Areas

This is a story telecast in the Konkani News bulletin of Doordarshan News, Panaji, on 3rd March, 2013.

Despite a Supreme Court Order in 2004 that no mining activity should be carried out within 10 km buffer zone outside Protected Areas, mining was going on in the vicinity and sometimes inside Goa’s 7 Protected Areas.  All that is set to change under new recommendations for mandatory Ecosensitive Zones outside all PAs in the country as   given by Central Empowered Committee set up by the Apex Court.

See story here.

Translation of the text:

Ecosensitive Zones outside PAs is a transition  corridor  meant for wildlife to pass from areas of maximum security to those of lesser security.  Buffer Zones should therefore  allow minimal human activity.  However in Goa extensive laterite quarrying and iron-ore mining is going on just outside the limits of PAs.  Says Rajendre Kelkar, noted environmentalist, “A reasonably wide buffer zone is required to protect wildlife and biodiversity.  Considering the extensive ecological damage done by intensive mining, at least 3 km buffer zone should be maintained.

Recently the Central Empowered Committee set up by the Apex Court to consider the question of demarcating buffer zones for PAs nationwide, recommended EcoSensitive Zones (ESZ) of maximum 2 km for the biggest PA of 500 sq km, and of  mimimum 100m for the smallest PA.  If wildlife sanctuaries are contiguous as in the case of Goa,  2 km buffer zone has to be maintained, and natural boundaries like water bodies should be protected.

Reversing its earlier stand of maintaining zero buffer zones, Govt of Goa has accepted these recommendations and decided to demarcate and notify 1 km buffer zone for its wildlife sanctuaries at Mhadei, Netrawati, and Mollem National Park, and a 100 m buffer zone for Chorao Bird Sanctuary and Bondla Wildlife Sanctuary.  Govt has also decided that for mining 2 km buffer zone will be demarcated, whilst announcing that mines currently operating within 1 km buffer  zone will be phased out within a period of five years.

This ecofriendly action has elicited sharp reaction from the Goa Mineral Ore Exporters Association who has demanded that govt should reconsider its decision as mining provides livelihood to more than 4000 people.  Their demand is considering that more than 38% of Goa’s land is under forest cover, out of which around 24% is under PAs, buffer zone should be less than 1 km.

All mining in Goa has come to a halt following a Supreme Court Order after Goa Foundation filed a public interest litigation for implementing  the recommendations of the Shah Commission.  As manay as 33 mines are operating in the periphery of Goa’s 7 PAs .   Goa exported around 54 million tonnes of iron ore in 2011-2012, much of which came from illegal mining.

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