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“It is not right in God’s sight to obey men rather than God.”

Centre warns MP government on eco-sensitive zone around national parks

BHOPAL: The Union ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) has warned the Madhya Pradesh government on the issue of declaration of eco-sensitive and eco-fragile zone around sanctuaries and national parks. It has also given a last opportunity to the state government to file proposals in this regard by February 15, 2013.

The ministry has warned that if the state failed to file the proposals by February 15, the guidelines of the ministry (of February 2011) related to prohibition on development/construction and mining activities in 10-km range of all national parks and sanctuaries, would come into force automatically.

Documents obtained through right to information (RTI) show that following the letter of MoEF, the state forest department has sent proposals of only 17 national parks and sanctuaries to the state environment and housing department for further action and forwarding to the MoEF.

The proposals of other 18 national parks and sanctuaries, including two national fossil parks in Mandla and Dhar, are however pending.

Environment and RTI activist Ajay Dubey, who obtained the documents, has alleged that the proposals are kept deliberately pending to benefit the mining activities in these areas and has demanded that proposals of all the national parks and sanctuaries in state should be sent to MoEF for declaration of eco-sensitive zones.

RTI documents show that in a letter sent to the chief secretary R Parasuram in December (2012), the secretary of MoEF V Rajgopalan has said the issue has been pending since 2002, when the wildlife conservation strategy 2002 was adopted by Indian Wildlife Board. Through this strategy, 10-km zone around all national parks and sanctuaries were declared eco-fragile zones.

The MoEF decided on declaring site-specific eco-sensitive zones in 2005 and asked states to submit site-specific proposals at the earliest, but the states have been dithering ever since.