Tuesday, August 26, 2014

ACT working president opposes proposal to reduce area covered under ESZ

GANGTOK, 25 Aug: Affected Citizens of Teesta [ACT] working president, Tseten Lepcha, has stated that the proposal of the state government to reduce the area covered under Eco Sensitive Zone [ESZ] from 10 km [10,000 meters] to 25 meters and the ones proposed for 200 meters is highly inadequate.
It is informed that this draft proposal of the Government of Sikkim was submitted to the MoEF for consideration and accordingly the Draft notification for notifying ESZ was issued by MoEF on 03 February 2014 with provision for members of public to respond to it within two months.
Addressing a press conference on Sunday, Mr. Lepcha said that this proposal of the Sikkim government will have a “devastating impact” on the biodiversity of the state and will ensure a free-for-all in the protected areas.
He also informed that few who had access to the notification responded within the stipulated time. “It was noticed that even our response to the notification was never taken in consideration and infact the entire exercise was an eyewash to fulfil some of the conditions for undertaking such step,” he alleged.
According to Mr Lepcha the general public and stakeholders at large were never informed by the concerned department on such an important issue.
“It was brought to our notice by the Union Forest Minister in the Parliament that the proposal of the Sikkim Govt to declare the ESZ was approved and the notification was to be published,” he informed.
Mr Lepcha alleged that the entire process was undertaken in haste to favour industrial houses and therefore it was felt that a stronger appeal had to be made. Accordingly, he served a legal notice to the MoEF on 20 August 2014 stating that either the ESZ be at least 7 to 8 kms or the entire Draft notification be withdrawn and a fresh proposal be submitted after wide publicity to the public and proper consultation with all concerned. The legal notice has been issued by Advocate Rahul Choudhary, who has been working tirelessly for the protection and conservation of the rich bio diversity of the country.
Mr Lepcha has further accused officials of the Forest Department of advocating development over conservation instead of making the mechanisms for conservation even stronger and more sustainable.
It was informed that Mr Lepcha has also spoken to the concerned official of the MoEF and was assured that the concerns raised would be brought to the notice of the government. He has further appealed to all concerned citizens to come forward to support this issue and ensure that the environment is protected and not lament after it is destroyed.

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