Although the Assam environment and forest department has submitted the draft proposal for declaring the eco sensitive zone (ESZ) of the Kaziranga National Park (KNP), the stakeholders of the park are yet to know about the draft.
The Assam government has submitted the draft proposal to the ministry of environment and forests of the central government for notification of the ESZ following a Supreme Court direction instructing the Union environment ministry to maintain 10 km of the eco-sensitive zone around 21 National Parks and Wildlife Sanctuaries.
Initially declared as a game sanctuary in 1916, the Kaziranga was declared as a national park in 1974.
However, the park is yet to get its eco sensitive zone demarcated, which will boost conservation activities by restraining all sorts of commercial and mining activities.
The Supreme Court while hearing a petition last year banned all mining activities in and around KNP.
However, commercial activities including setting up of new hotels and resorts continued unabated in and around the park, affecting the wildlife conservation.
However, if the ESZ is demarcated involving an area of 10 kms, many properties including hotels and resorts are likely to fall under the eco sensitive zone.
The locals, however, expressed unhappiness over the draft as they were not even informed about the content of the draft which was sent to the Central government for notification.
“The issue of declaring the eco sensitive zone was first raised in 2015-16. I remember that some consultations were also held.
“There were large scale protest by the stakeholders and the consultation process was stopped,” said a wildlife activist and a fringe village of the national park.
He said the forest department has failed to provide a map of the park to demarcate the eco sensitive zone.
“I know that the eastern part was extended upto the No Development Zone of Numaligarh Refinery Ltd. After the consultation the draft was not made available to public,” he said.