Sasan bandh observed to press for even smaller ESZ
THE TIMES OF INDIA
Ahmedabad: Despite the expert committee for the eco-sensitive zone(ESZ)shinking the ESZ around Gir sanctuary — extending to between 0.5km and 9.4km away from the sanctuary boundary — locals in Sasan have launched an agitation demanding that the ESZ be shrunk to a uniform 0.5km away from the boundary, instead of it extending to the maximum of 9.4km in some parts.
Residents of Talala and Sasan observed a bandh on Friday, to press their demand to further shrink the ESZ, to 0.5km from the boundary all round. Led by Pravin Ram, the leader of the Adhikar Manch, they have launched an agitation for this.
On April 11, the expert committee on ESZs had met for its 25th meeting, chaired by Dr Amita Prasad, additional secretary of the ministry of environment, forests and climate change. The minutes of the meeting show that the committee had then cleared the reduction of the ESZ around Gir sanctuary and recommended that the changes be notified. The committee had raised the near limit of the ESZ to 0.5km from 0km and cut the far limit from 17.9km to 9.4km.
Ram said, "If residents near Dhari can have the ESZ end just 0.5km away, why can't residents of Talala taluka get the same benefit. We are not against the conservation of lions. Local residents have help to save the lion and taken care of them in the area. It is because of local residents that the lion population has increased. Residents raised several objections, but these were not considered. Due to the ESZ, farmers can't sow crops that grow higher than four feet and have to approach the forest department to renovate of build houses."
Ram said their agitation would be intensified if the government does not get the ESZ reduced to 0.5km.