Pune: 42 villages around Bhimashankar wildlife sanctuary notified under eco-sensitive zone

bhimashankar village
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Pune, August 22, 2020: The Union Ministry for Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC) has declared Bhimashankar Wildlife Sanctuary as an ‘Eco-Sensitive’ Zone. The region includes 42 villages in Pune, Thane and Raigad districts. Bhimashakar is known for Maharashtra’s state animal Shekaru, or the Indian Giant Squirrel, and is one of the most biodiversity-rich areas in the Western Ghats.

Last year, in July, the forest department had issued a draft notification in this regard and had asked people to register their suggestions and objections over the same. While the villagers in these 42 villages had objected to the declaration of this area as an eco-sensitive zone, considering the biodiversity here, the Ministry has gone ahead with its plan. The eco-sensitive zone extends from around 0.05 to 10 kms around the boundaries of the wildlife sanctuary.

The declaration of an eco-sensitive zone would not change the routine, agricultural activities of the village. However, it would not allow the establishment of any chemical fertiliser factories, large power plants, stone quarries, lumber mills, large housing complexes, recreational parks, etc. in the area. Also, it would be mandatory to take permission from the Forest Department before opening any hotels or resorts. The villages would require to devise appropriate plans for waste management, pollution control, etc. At the same time, no permission would be given for construction on hilly slopes.