Congress leader and Wayanad MP Rahul Gandhi has dashed off a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi drawing his attention to the plight of the local communities of Wayanad in Kerala, whose livelihoods would be adversely affected by the recent Supreme Court order on the maintenance of Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ) around national parks and wildlife sanctuaries.
“The state and the union governments can help by requesting dilution of a minimum width of an ESZ to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) and the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). The Supreme Court judgment considers recommendations made by the CEC & the MoEF&CC,” Gandhi wrote on his Facebook wall on Friday and posted a copy of the letter too.
“Local communities, still reeling under the impact of the Covid pandemic, have expressed grave concerns regarding the implications of this judgment on their lives and livelihoods. The Guidelines for Declaration of Eco-Sensitive Zones (ESZ) around National Park and Wildlife Sanctuaries dated February 9, 2011 – ESZ Guidelines – as well as the abovementioned judgment prohibit certain activities in ESZ.
“These guidelines also regulate several activities, including, the change of agriculture systems, protection of hill slopes, and erection of electrical cables. The judgment states that no permanent structure shall be permitted to come up for whatsoever purpose within ESZ. As one of the most densely populated regions in the Western Ghats, such restrictions hamper the ability of local communities to improve their standard of living,” Gandhi’s letter said.
“I request the Union government to address these concerns in the larger public interest and reiterate our shared commitment to balancing conservation goals with our people’s legitimate developmental needs,” the Congress leader said, adding he has written to the Kerala Chief Minister too.