It has been two years since the government of India notified the Eco-sensitive Zone (ESZ) around Bandipur but the monitoring committee to ensure the compliance of the notification, is yet to be set up.
The committee has to oversee the implementation of the Zonal Master Plan for the Bandipur ESZ. This plan provides for restoration of denuded areas, conservation and management of waterbodies, watershed management, soil and moisture conservation, and other aspects of the environment.
Besides, the plan has to demarcate all the existing worshipping places, village settlements, types and kinds of forests to ensure that there is no change of land use from green uses to non-green uses. The ESZ notification, which spells out the broad outlines of the zonal master plan, states that the plan has to ensure that there was no reduction in forest zone, green zones and agricultural area in the ESZ limits.
A senior official of the Department of Forests told The Hindu that setting up of the committee was being delayed at the government level over the issue of appointing non-official members to it.
“The nomination of government officials is provided for in the gazette notification. But it is the nomination of non-officials drawn from non-governmental organisations or specialists on wildlife matters that is delaying the setting of the committee. We have sent a reminder to the government on its early constitution. The committee is a must to take a collective decision or else decisions will not only be questioned but will be unilateral in nature,” said the official. The Regional Commissioner of Mysore is slated to be chairperson of the committee.
Meanwhile, a senior wildlife biologist said that in the absence of the monitoring committee, the rules pertaining to the ESZ notification could be misinterpreted. A case in point is a resort that is coming up under the guise of a farmhouse. “Though it is a commercial venture, it will lead to disturbance to wildlife, block movement of animals and culminate in habitat degradation, in the long run,” he said.
D. Rajkumar, representative of the National Tiger Conservation Authority for Bandipur, underlined the importance of the monitoring committee in reducing anthropogenic pressure on forests. “Majority of the people who have purchased land in the ESZ area have done so with commercial motives. They will seek land conversion for purposes like farming which could be a mask for a commercial resort and hence, there is an urgent need for constituting a monitoring committee to curb such activities,” Mr. Rajkumar said.