GoI unveils proposal to declare ESZ around Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary

Srinagar, Jun 17: The Union Ministry of Forests, Environment and Climate Change has unveiled a proposal to declare 62. 2 square kilometres around the boundary of Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary as eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).

The Ministry has put the draft proposal in public domain to seek suggestions over it.

“The eco-sensitive zone shall be of 62.2 square kilometers with an extent of zero (0) to 4.1 kilometers around the boundary of Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary,” reads the proposal.

As per the notification, the ‘zero’ extent of eco-sensitive zone in some directions is proposed as the areas have tourist potential and the population living around the Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary mainly are dependent on tourist activities.

“If the entire area is included within the eco-sensitive zone, then livelihood of the villagers will be directly affected,” it reads.

Spread over an area of 180 in north Kashmir’s Baramulla district, the Gulmarg Wildlife Sanctuary was declared as a Wildlife Sanctuary on March 14, 1987.

The area harbours viable population of the endangered and endemic Himalayan musk deer besides other faunal species. It is also rich in number of rare and variety of flora with great economic, genetic and medicinal value.

According to the notification, the zonal master plan for the eco-sensitive zone shall be prepared by the government of J&K within a period of two years.

The notification states that all new and existing mining (minor and major minerals), stone quarrying and crushing units shall be prohibited with immediate effect.

It prohibits setting up of new industries and expansion of existing polluting industries in the eco-sensitive zone.

It also prohibits establishment of major hydroelectric projects in the ESZ.

“New or expansion of existing saw mills shall not be permitted within the eco-sensitive zone,” it states.

It also states no new commercial hotels and resorts shall be permitted within one kilometer of the boundary of the protected area or upto the extent of eco-sensitive zone, whichever is nearer, except for small temporary structures for eco-tourism activities.

“Provided that, beyond one kilometer from the boundary of the protected area or upto the extent of eco-sensitive zone whichever is nearer, all new tourist activities or expansion of existing activities shall be in conformity with the Tourism Master Plan and guidelines as applicable,” reads the draft proposal.

There is also a blanket ban on new commercial construction of any kind within one kilometer from the boundary of the protected area or up to extent of the eco-sensitive zone whichever is nearer, it states.

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