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Activists mull to move court over ESZ reduction around Okhla Bird Sanctuary

Activists mull to move court over ESZ reduction around Okhla Bird Sanctuary
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The activists, crying foul over the move by the ministry to provide relief to the real estate body, have claimed that 100-metre area is too less for any sanctuary which is a natural habitat of hundreds of species of birds and animals especially the rare species. They claim that the decision will not only ruin the entire sanctuary but will affect more sanctuaries across the country while drawing their limits.

“Our lawyer is preparing the petition and will challenge it either in NGT or in the Supreme Court. Today you (ministry) reduced the ESZ to 100 metre and tomorrow you will reduce it to 10,15 or 20 metre, then where will the sanctuary exist ?,” said Anand Arya, an environmentalist and a noted bird-watcher.

Activists and lawyers claimed that the ministry cannot reduce the area of a sensitive zone as it will be a brazen violation of the norms laid by the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) as well as of the guidelines of the Supreme Court.

The activists also claim that certain parameters are to be kept in mind while drawing the limits but in the case of Okhla Bird Sanctuary there seems to be <g data-gr-id="38">complete</g> absence of any such parameter.

“It is violative of the Supreme Court order in the Dalit Prerna Sthal <g data-gr-id="29">case-wherein</g> the Apex Court had asked for the area of the sanctuary to be increased which has not been done,” said Arya, adding that on various occasions the Apex Court has said that ‘a last opportunity’ be given to states to come up with ESZs. This order is now being violated by this notification as the last opportunity was in 2013 and thereafter 10 kilometre is now the ESZ.

Calling it a delay in decision which will destroy the entire area of the Okhla Bird Sanctuary, activists claimed that the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Rule-2006 for all kinds of construction activity makes it mandatory to prepare <g data-gr-id="28">impact-assessment</g> report and to get clearance either from the state or from the NBWL, depending upon the area of the project. However, in the case of construction activities around Okhla Bird Sanctuary, <g data-gr-id="40">majority</g> of builders have not followed the procedure and now when the boundary has been reduced more violations will be witnessed.

Another environmentalist Vikrant <g data-gr-id="30">Tongad</g> said that the move is also against the River Regulation Zone policy, as construction cannot take place within 500 <g data-gr-id="33">meter</g> of a river bank. “The flying zone of many species of birds especially the migratory birds, which is between the Dadri Wetland and the sanctuary, will also be affected if high-rises will come up in the area. For any sanctuary, 100-metre limit is too little,” said <g data-gr-id="31">Tongad</g>.
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