Bhubaneswar, December 7 (LocalWire): Wildlife activists in Odisha have alleged that the southern part of Karlapat Wildlife Sanctuary in Kalahandi district has been excluded from the purview of the proposed Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) due to mining interests.
The proposed ESZ under Environment Protection Act for the famous sanctuary is being taken up based on the proposal submitted by the state government.
Stating that the ESZ has a serious bearing on the future of these forests, the activists have pointed out that Karlapat boasts of elephant population and serves as a crucial corridor link for free mixing of elephants in Kotagarh Sanctuary in Kandhamal district and Lakhari valley Sanctuary in Gajapati district.
However, development activities, an extension of farmlands, encroachments, repeated fire and grazing, have led to a fragmented habitat for the elephant population.
“The population of carnivores animals is also steadily decreasing due to degradation of their habitat,” Wild Orissa chief spokesman Kulamani Deo said.
There are key habitats and fragile wildlife habitats within the buffer zone of the sanctuary and the wild animals move into this zone in search of food and shelter.
“If sufficient steps are not taken to conserve and protect the wildlife outside the sanctuary boundaries, it may be difficult to sustain a healthy population of wildlife inside the sanctuary,” the activists stated.
Zero ESZ is being proposed in the southern part of the sanctuary for the reasons that out of eight bauxite blocks three have been given to a company for exploration purposes of bauxite.
The purpose of declaring ESZ around National Parks, wildlife sanctuaries, and Tiger Reserves is to create some kind of shock absorber for the protected areas, which would also act as a transition zone from areas of high protection to areas involving lesser protection and it is to be regulatory in nature.
However, the guidelines issued by the centre for notifying ESZ very clearly says that where sensitive corridors, connectivity and ecological important patches, crucial for landscape linkage, are even beyond 10 km width, this should also be included in the ESZ, a condition that is not being followed in the case of Karlapat.