Submitted by alvin on Wed, 2016-06-22 09:51 Bengaluru: Conservation efforts at the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) received a shot in the arm as the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MOEF) declared a large area around the park as an Ecologically Sensitive Zone (ESZ) and directed the state government to stop quarries, saw mill industries, and air and noise pollution causing industries in the ESZ.The notification, which has declared 268.96 sq kms area as ESZ, states that 77 villages and 17 hamlets within the boundaries of the national park would be part of the ESZ.Stating the necessity to protect wildlife and their habitat, the notification, issued on June 15, says, “In exercise of the power conferred under sub section (1) and clause 5 and 14 of subsection (2) and (3) of sub section (3) of section (3) of the environment protection act 1986 (29 of 1986) read with sub rule 3 of rule 5 of environment (protection rules), 1986. The central government hereby notifies an area to an extent varying from 100 metres to 4.5 kms around the periphery of Bannerghatta national park in State of Karnataka as ESZ.”Noting the importance of the area for the migration of large mammals, including elephants which migrate from TN’s Thalli reserve forest, which is contiguous with Cauvery wildlife sanctaury, the notification says, “The area has high faunal and floral diversity. It supports breeding population of elephants, leopards, dholes (wild dogs), gaur, sambar, chital and sloth bear.”The notification also points out the park’s significance as a watershed area. “The park is an important watershed area for rivers like Arkavathi, Suvaranamukhi, Muthyalamaduvu hole, Rayathmala hole, Hebbala halla and Antharagange that merge with river Cauvery,” states the notification.Asking the state government to prevent commercial activities in the ESZ, the notification asks for promoting non-polluting projects and agro-based industries which rely on harmless indigenous products.Eco-friendly cottages, wooden houses, widening of existing roads and construction of new roads can be permitted with accent from monitoring committee formed by the state government, states the notification which also asks the state government to prepare a zonal master plan within a period of two years from the date of publication of final notification in official gazette after consulting local people and adhering to stipulations. “The said master plan shall be prepared in consultation with all state depts. like environment, forest, urban development, tourism, municipal, revenue, agriculture, KSPCB, irrigation, PWD department,” the notification states.