Who stands where on ESZ
ECO-SENSITIVE ZONES ( ESZ) are ecologically important areas notified under the Environment Protection Act. Creating ESZs around protected areas (PAs) was first proposed by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in 2002. It had decided that an area of 10 km from the boundaries of all PAs should be declared eco-sensitive. But many states opposed this. The decision was challenged in the Supreme Court.
In 2006, the Supreme Court ordered that states will declare ecosensitive zones on case-to-case basis, and that industrial activity in such zones would be regulated instead of being prohibited.
In December 2006, the court asked MoEF to give a final opportunity to the states to declare ESZs. It warned the states that if they did not submit ESZ proposals within the time given by MoEF, it might declare an ESZ of 10 km around all PAs. It also directed that all projects which had got environment clearance but fell within 10 km of PAs should be placed before the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) for approval. MoEF interpreted this order saying that till site-specific ESZs are not notified in a particular PA, all the projects that fall within 10 km of the PA and require environment clearance will need NBWL's approval.
In February 2011, MoEF formulated guidelines for identifying area-specific ESZs. As per the guidelines, mining and most polluting industries and change of land use were prohibited in ESZ-sand other developmental activities were regulated. However, few states followed this.
In December 2012, while hearing a petition on the buffer zones of PAs in Goa, the Supreme Court again directed MoEF to give the states a final chance for notifying ESZs. June 2013 was the final deadline. Till June 30, 2013, out of the total 670 PAs that do not have ESZs, the MoEF received proposals only for 360.
On April 21 this year, the Supreme Court clarified it had never ordered 10 km radius ESZs.