Need of Eco- Sensitive Zones (ESZ’s)in Uttarakhand
Ecologically Sensitive Areas (ESAs) have been identified and notified by the Indian Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) since 1989. Notifications declaring areas as ESAs are issued under the Environment (Protection) Act 1986. The clauses of the EPA which allow for the notification of ESAs hold the possibility of realising landscape-level conservation. However, these clauses have been used only by a few actors mainly because of the lack of knowledge about the scope of ESAs and also due to the MoEF’s ambiguity in notifying them.
The past disasters & the current ecological challenges
Over the last few years, the frequency & intensity of disasters in the state of Uttarakhand has consistently been increasing. The deforestation has rendered the soil loose leading to increased cases of landslides. The flash floods due to cloud burst events were much infrequent. Experts have repeatedly pointed out that an increased burden of anthropogenic activities lies at the root of this frequent destruction. It is required to study changes in the micro climate that might be triggering the cloud burst events.
There have been a variety of natural hazards, including occasional mass movements of destructive impact in the Uttarkashi and the adjoining regions in the past. The year 1978 witnessed widespread flooding and landslide activity due to cloud bursts and flash floods in the region. Landsliding in June 1980 had taken a toll of 24 human lives in Uttarkashi District. The disastrous landslide of 23 September 2000 in the area caused widespread damage. All these make it necessary to properly evaluate the potential hazards and suggest appropriate counter measures for future development of steep mountain sides and narrow valleys.