Eco-sensitive zones around Sundarbans national park soon

Kolkata, July 30 (IANS) Eco-sensitive zones may soon come up around the Sundarbans National Park in West Bengal, said a senior forest department official on Thursday.

“Proposals have gone from the state government to the central government and any day a notification may come out,” said Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Sundarban Biosphere Reserve director Pradeep Vyas.

According to the ESZ guidelines set by the union environment, forests and climate change ministry, these areas act as “shock absorbers” for the protected areas by regulating and managing the activities around such areas and held to prevent ecological damage caused due to developmental activities around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.

“A panel of experts will declare specific areas as eco-sensitive zones where there will be activities that are permissible and activities that are non-permissible,” Vyas said at a panel discussion on Global Tiger Day on Wednesday at the Indian Museum here.

The event was organised by Society for Heritage and Ecological Researches (SHER) , Association for Conservation and Tourism and the Zoological Survey of India.

The Sundarbans National Park is a national park, tiger Reserve, and a biosphere reserve in West Bengal and is situated in the Sundarbans mangrove forests on the Ganga delta.

Vyas said tourist lodges could be set up in an eco-friendly manner in accordance with the ESZ guidelines.

“Activities will be monitored by the forest department as well as a committee which will include members of the civil society,” he said.

Recently, a section of villagers had strongly opposed the central government’s notification, declaring 446.40 sq km, around the Bhitarkanika National Park and the Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in Kendrapada district in Odisha as ESZ.

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