Judgment of the Supreme Court regarding eco-sensitive zones of national parks/sanctuaries, 03/06/2022

The Judgment of the Supreme Court of India in the matter of In Re: T. N. Godavarman Thirumulpad Vs Union of India & Others dated 03/06/2022.

The apex court directed that each protected forest (national park/wildlife sanctuary) must have an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) of minimum one kilometre measured from the demarcated boundary of such protected forest. For Jamua Ramgarh wildlife sanctuary (Jaipur, Rajasthan) it would be 500 metres so far as subsisting activities are concerned, the SC said. "In the event, however, the ESZ is already prescribed as per law that goes beyond one kilometre buffer zone, the wider margin as ESZ shall prevail," the judgment of the SC, June 3, 2022 said.

Mining within the national parks and wildlife sanctuaries shall not be permitted. Further, if any activity is already being undertaken within one kilometre or extended buffer zone (ESZ) which does not come within the ambit of prohibited activities as per the 9th February 2011 Guidelines, such activities may continue with permission of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests of each State or Union Territory and the person responsible for such activities in such a situation shall obtain necessary permission within a period of six months.

The minimum width of the ESZ "may be diluted in overwhelming public interest" but for that purpose the state or Union Territory concerned shall approach the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) and both these bodies would give their respective opinions/recommendations before the court, the judgment said.