Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary: Haryana proposes fresh delineation of eco-sensitive zone - Hindustan Times
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Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary: Haryana proposes fresh delineation of eco-sensitive zone

By, Chandigarh
Mar 08, 2024 09:16 AM IST

The Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, spread over 25.98 square km (about 6420 acres), is under the administrative control of union territory of Chandigarh and shares its boundaries with Haryana and Punjab. The sanctuary is located in Shivalik foothills which are considered ecologically sensitive and geologically unstable.

The Haryana government has proposed that an area of 1,000 metres around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary on the Haryana side be delineated as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ).

The Haryana government has proposed that an area of 1,000 metres around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary on the Haryana side be delineated as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). (HT File)
The Haryana government has proposed that an area of 1,000 metres around the Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary on the Haryana side be delineated as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ). (HT File)

The proposal was sent in January 2024 to the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) for issuing a final notification delineating the eco-sensitive zone on the Haryana side.

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The Sukhna Wildlife Sanctuary, spread over 25.98 square km (about 6420 acres), is under the administrative control of union territory of Chandigarh and shares its boundaries with Haryana and Punjab. The sanctuary is located in Shivalik foothills which are considered ecologically sensitive and geologically unstable. The protected area, being rich with diverse flora and fauna, contains a variety of topographical features and was declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1988 by the Chandigarh administration.

Haryana’s earlier proposal of 100 metres rejected by central ministry

An earlier draft proposal sent on January 31, 2023, by the state government to the MoEFCC had pitched for delineating the ESZ of Sukhna wildlife sanctuary with the extent of 100 meters towards the Haryana side. However, the MoEFCC in a July 29, 2023, communication asked the principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF), Haryana, to submit a revised proposal as per the March 2, 2020, orders of the Punjab and Haryana high court. The HC had directed the MoEFCC to notify at least 1 km area from the boundary of the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary as ESZ falling in Punjab and Haryana within a period of three months.

Proposed ESZ will encompass HSVP sectors, military cantonment area

As per the draft proposal sent to the MoEFCC, the total area of proposed eco-sensitive zone will be 2,460 hectares (about 6,078 acres). “The proposed ESZ will encompass and include area comprising of Sector 1 and parts of Sector 2 and 3 including Gymkhana Club under Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran (HSVP), area falling under Chandimandir cantonment including small arms firing range of military station, Chandimandir, Central Soil and Water Conservation Research and Training Institute, tubewell chambers, paragliding parks, area falling under sector 1 of Mansa Devi Complex, Panchkula and part of area falling under Panchkula municipal corporation,” the draft proposal said.

The proposal said that 10 villages - Prempura, Sukhomajri, Damala, Lohgarh, Manakpur Thakardas, Surajpur, Chandimandir Kotla, Darra Kharauni, Rampur and Saketri/Mahadevpur fall within the proposed ESZ.

State govt proposes four zones

The state government has proposed to divide the ESZ into four zones. As per the proposal, the extent of zone 1 will be 100 meters from the boundary of Sukhna wildlife sanctuary, zone 2 will be 100 metres to 300 metres from the boundary of protected area, zone 3 will comprise of area falling in 300-700 metres from the boundary of the protected area. The rest of the area that is 700 to 1,000 metres from the boundary in the protected area shall be in zone 4.

Prohibited and regulated activities

The district level committee decided to prohibit activities such as commercial mining, stone quarrying, crushing units, sawmills, industries causing water, air, noise and soil pollution, commercial use of natural water resources including groundwater, wood-based industry etc. Among the regulated activities, no new commercial hotels and resorts shall be permitted within zone 1 and 2 except for accommodation for temporary occupation of tourists related to eco-tourism activities, the proposal said.

Regarding construction activities, no new construction of any kind shall be permitted within zone 1. However, the local residents shall be permitted to undertake construction on the land for their bona fide residential use.

Construction of new building houses with ground coverage less than 75% and height up to 10 m shall be allowed in zone 2 from the boundary of the protected area if permissible under the prescribed land used plan of the area and subject to development regulations applicable to the area.

Construction of new building houses with ground coverage less than 75% and height up to 15 m shall be allowed in the Zone 3 from the boundary of the protected area if permissible under the prescribed land use plan of the area and subject to develop and regulations applicable to the area. Construction of new building houses with ground coverage less than 75% shall be allowed in the distance Zone 4 from boundary of the protected area.

In all the notified forest areas falling within the proposed ESZ, the provision of the Forest Act and rules will be applicable.

No new construction activity will be permitted in the catchment area of the Sukhna wildlife sanctuary.

Wildlife Institute of India suggestions incorporated

In the revised draft proposal sent in January 2024 to the central ministry for issuing a final notification delineating the eco-sensitive zone on the Haryana side, the state government has also incorporated the suggestions of Wildlife Institute of India Dehradun that the eco-sensitive zone be extended till the reserve forest boundary. The MoEFCC had asked the state government to furnish a revised proposal as per the observations of Wildlife Institute of India.

The revised draft was put up in a December 22, 2023, meeting of a district-level committee headed by Panchkula deputy commissioner. As per the minutes of the December 2023 meeting, Panchkula divisional wildlife officer said that eco-sensitive zones around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries acted as a transition zone between areas of very high protection and little or no protection. “In the protected area, all activities other than the activities prescribed for conservation and protection of its habitat are prohibited. On the other hand, some of the activities are either prohibited or regulated. Eco-sensitive zones act as shock absorbers and insulate the protected area from the likely adverse impact of the activities in the adjacent areas,” the officer said.

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