Guwahati, March 10:Keeping an eye into the future so that it does not fall a victim to the "pressures" around it, Kaziranga National Park authorities are planning to declare an area of 10km around it as an eco sensitive zone.
A park official said the authorities were going ahead with declaring the park as an eco-sensitive zone, which would classify activities into three areas — prohibited, regulated and permissible — to minimise, or preferably eliminate, any negative impact on it and ensure that the park is safe for the future.
The basic aim of an eco sensitive zone is to regulate certain activities around national park or wildlife sanctuary so as to minimise the negative impacts on the fragile ecosystem encompassing the protected area.
The "pressures" which the national park which is also a World Heritage Site are from floods, economic activities, climate change, land use change and road development around it.
Assam’s chief wildlife warden Suresh Chand said the eco-sensitive zone will be notified by June. The ministry of environment and forests has already prepared an indicative set of activities under three categories — prohibited, regulated with safeguards and permissible for consideration.
This set of activities, prepared by the Centre for consideration, has placed construction of hotels and resorts in the regulated category. This actually belies concerns raised by many that hotels and resorts around the park will be prohibited. Fencing of premises of hotels and lodges have also been put in the regulated category along with widening of roads.
The Centre has asked the state to convey a strong message to the public that an eco-sensitive zone is not meant to hamper their day-to-day activities but to protect the zone from any negative impact and refine the environment around the area.
“All this propaganda by some people that their businesses will be affected is simply false. What we are saying is that it needs to be regulated with safeguards so that there is no negative impact on the park. We will have to look towards the future of the park and we do not want it to be doomed,” a forest official said.
A joint paper by Unesco — United Nations Foundation on Opportunities and Challenges for Kaziranga National Park over the Next Fifty Years — a few years back had already warned about the future threats. It said the “continued survival of Kaziranga National Park over the next century and consolidation of the conservation successes achieved in the last hundred years will therefore depend to a large extent on what happens beyond the park’s boundaries and also on ensuring that management options elsewhere, in the river and in the surrounding landscape, do not undermine the ecology and integrity of the park.”
There is already a directive from the ministry that an inventory of different land use patterns, types of activities and types and number of industries operating near the protected area, be carried out for declaration of an eco-sensitive zone.