Uttarakhand Government Heeds Public Demand, Allows Development Projects in Eco-sensitive Zone

Reported by

Tarun JoshiLand Conflict Watch

Last updated on

February 8, 2021

Location of Conflict

Uttarkashi

Uttarkashi

Reason or Cause of Conflict

Protected Areas

Eco-Sensitive Zone

(

Eco-Sensitive Zone

)

People Affected by Conflict

Land Area Affected (in Hectares)

417900

ha

Starting Year

2013

State

Uttarakhand

Sector

Conservation and Forestry

The National Wildlife Action Plan, 2002-16, stipulated that state governments should declare land falling within 10 kilometres of the boundaries of national parks and sanctuaries as eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) under the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986. In 2012, the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) declared an area between Gaumukh to Uttarkashi, spread over 4,179.56 square kilometres, including 88 villages, an ESZ called Bhagirathi. According to guidelines, activities such as commercial mining and the establishment of sawmills and industries causing pollution are prohibited in such areas. It also prohibits tourism activities like flying over protected areas in an aircraft or in a hot air balloon and discharge of effluents and solid waste in natural water bodies or terrestrial areas. Felling of trees, drastic change in agriculture systems and commercial use of natural water resources, including groundwater harvesting and setting up of hotels and resorts, are also regulated in these areas. The total area of Uttarkashi is 7,951 square kilometres. Of this, 3,347 square kilometres have already been declared a protected area. With the inclusion of Bhagirathi, 80 per cent of the land in Uttarkashi would come under a protected area, and only 3.5 per cent of land would be left for agricultural activities. Besides, agriculture, animal husbandry and development activities will also be affected. Hence the local people are against the proposed ESZ. Dehradun-based social activist Avdhash Kaushal threatened to launch an agitation against the 2012 notification, arguing that because of the ESZ status Uttarakhand has to spend nearly INR 1,000 crore every year to buy electricity as no new hydroelectricity projects are allowed. He contended that instead of a blanket ban, the rules should allow construction and commercial activities on the hill slope subject to environmental approval, no loss of green areas and no damage to water resources. After years of protests by environmentalists and objections by the Uttarakhand government that the notification was 'anti-development, on April 16, 2018, the MoEFCC amended it. The ministry allowed the development of tourist resorts and commercial complexes in Bhagirathi. Tourist resorts and commercial complexes shall be located in areas with surplus water and electricity, in consultation with Village Assemblies and existing users and with due approval of the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority, says the new notification.

Demand/Contention of the Affected Community

Region Classification

Rural

Type of Land

Common

Type of Common Land

Forest and Non-Forest

Total investment involved (in Crores):

Type of investment:

Year of Estimation

Has the Conflict Ended?

Yes

When did it end?

April 2018

Why did the conflict end?

Categories of Legislations Involved in the Conflict

Legislations/Policies Involved

Whether claims/objections were made as per procedure in the relevant statute

What was the claim(s)/objection(s) raised by the community? What was the decision of the concerned government department?

Legal Processes and Loopholes Enabling the Conflict:

Legal Status:

Out of Court

Status of Case In Court

Whether any adjudicatory body was approached

Name of the adjudicatory body

Name(s) of the Court(s)

Case Number

Major Human Rights Violations Related to the Conflict:

Whether criminal law was used against protestors

Official name of the criminal law. Did the case reach trial?

Reported Details of the Violation:

Date of Violation

Location of Violation

Nature of Protest

Protests/marches

Government Departments Involved in the Conflict:

Forest Department, Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change

PSUs Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Government Authorities for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of the Government Authorities Approached

Corporate Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Did LCW Approach Corporate Parties for Comments?

Name, Designation and Comment of Corporate Authorities Approached

Other Parties Involved in the Conflict:

Sarv Aliya Sangharsh Samitee

Resources Related to Conflict

  • News Articles Related to the Conflict:
  • Documents Related to the Conflict:
  • Links Related to the Conflict:
No Images Available

Documented By

Tarun Joshi

Reviewed By

Tarun Joshi

Updated By

Tarun Joshi

Edited By

Tarun JoshiLand Conflict Watch
X

Support our work

Your contribution ensures continuity of this crucial project.

As a member, you will get exclusive access to special reports, policy papers and research projects undertaken by Land Conflict Watch and behind-the-scenes interactions with the writers and researchers about their work.
Contribute Now