Recently, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change had published a new notification that is going to condense the eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) around the Bannerghatta National Park (BNP) by 100 sq km. This made environmentalists and citizens of Bengaluru raise a serious red flag. By Priyanka Chakrabarti
As reported by Indiatimes, if the proposal gets a go-ahead, Bengaluru’s Bannerghatta National Park will be diminished to just 169 sq km from the current 269 sq km. Moreover, this act will shorten the extent of the ESZ from a maximum of 4.5 km to 1 km! Activists opine that any move to cut short the ESZ of Bannerghatta National Park will invite a series of dire consequences on the existing frail ecosystem.
The greatest dispute that environmentalists and activists have brought to the table is that compressing the buffer of BNP will open it up to mining, which they say will hike up pollution levels and also, increase disorder and disruption towards animals and people living in the park.
Presently, there are three mines running in the proximity of Bannerghatta National Park, which they allege, are causing major issues to the ecosystem. “Bannerghatta is already a hub for illegal mining. The authorities have not been able to keep the quarries under check. So imagine, if the ESZ is reduced and there is more mining in the area!,” Vijay Nishanth a Bengaluru-based environmentalist was quoted by Indiatimes.
He furthermore said that order from Additional Chief Secretary, Urban Development Department, to cancel the licenses issued for mining and crushing activities in the ESZ of Bannerghatta National Park is yet to be enforced, and the mining operations are still going on. The draft notification issued by the ministry has been open for public assessment till the end of this month.
Two online campaigns steered by United Bengaluru and Jhatkaa are trying to gain support to save Bannerghatta National Park. “I am afraid that this could be our last chance to save Bannerghatta. If the notification in the present form gets cleared by the ministry, it will be the utter destruction of the national park as we knew it. The saddest part is that a lot of people, even in Bengaluru are not aware of its consequences,” Nishanth explained.
Bannerghatta National Park covers an area of 65,127.5 acres. It is extremely crucial for the subsistence of Bengaluru, which is drastically transforming into an uninhabitable city, and is anticipated to be India’s first city to run out of water!