Eco-sensitive zone notification for areas around Bhitarkanika

Kendrapara: The eco-sensitive zone notification along the bordering areas of Bhitarkanika National Park in Kendrapara district has not gone down well with residents living in villages along the forest.

The notified areas would now be guided by stringent provisions of environment protection law, according to national park officials.

With the notification prohibiting and regulating 33 categories of human activities in the proposed eco-sensitive zones, people living on fringes on the park are not happy.

“The implementation of ESZ cover is bound to trigger largescale resentment and conflict among locals”, said Rajnagar MLA Anshuman Mohanty.

The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MEF&CC) recently issued the notification. The notification categorised 446.40 sq km area stretching in 192 villages around Bhitarkanika National Park and Gahirmatha Marine Sanctuary in Kendrapara district as an ESZ.

“ESZ prohibits night movement of traffic. The movement of boats after daybreak would not be allowed. Freedom of life stands curtailed as people suffering from illness would be left to languish untreated and would have to wait for dawn.

Larger interest of people ought to be prioritised before enforcing the ESZ,” he said.

“The union government has issued the ESZ. However, people grievances would be duly heard and taken care of”, said Divisional Forest Officer, Rajnagar Mangrove (wildlife) Forest Division, Bimal Prasanna Acharya.