(Online Course) Contemporary Issues for IAS Mains 2012: PIB – Protecting Biodiversity Of The Eastern Ghats

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Protecting Biodiversity Of The Eastern Ghats

Environmentally Sensitive Zones are areas with identified
environmental resources having “Incomparable Values” which require special
attention for their conservation. Ecological sensitivity is defined as the
imminent possibility of permanent and irreparable loss of extant life forms from
the world, or significant damage to the natural processes of evolution and
speciation. This means loss of bio-diversity needs to be measured not only
against some measure of the current stock, but also in terms of the potential
that must be preserved for future generations. After degradation and loss of
natural resources, the Ministry of Environment and Forests has identified
eco-sensitive areas in the Eastern Ghats and is also taking initiatives to
protect biodiversity. In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (1)
read with clause (v) and clause (xiv) of sub-section (2) of section 3 of the
Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 (29 of 1986) and sub-rule (3) of rule 5 of
the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986, the Central Government can notify any
area as the Eco-sensitive Zone.

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Criteria to Declare Environmentally Sensitive Zones There are
three main criteria to declare any area as Ecologically Sensitive Zone. The
first of the primary criteria is species related, and defines the
characteristics of species which are or may become threatened with extinction.
These include endemism, rarity, endangered species and centres of evolution of
domesticated species. The second category relates to eco-systems. Some of these
derive their importance from being essential to the survival of the first
category, while the rest are critical for maintaining the range and pace of
evolution and speciation. These include wildlife Corridors, specialised
ecosystems, and special breeding site/area, areas with intrinsically low
resilience, sacred groves and frontier forests etc. The third category includes
geo-morphological conditions which are known to have substantial effect on
eco-systems at large. These include uninhabited islands in the sea, steep
slopes, origins or rivers. In addition to these primary criteria, there are
seven auxiliary criteria viz., species based – areas or centres of less known
food plants, eco system based – wetlands and grasslands and geo-morphological
features based – upper catchment areas, not so steep slopes, high rainfall areas
and other uninhabited islands.

There are also probable areas to be declared as ecologically
sensitive zones. A certain amount of prioritization is given to the areaswhich
are already known to be either ecologically important or under ecological
stress. Examples of such areas are National parks and Sanctuaries, Tiger
Reserves, Protected and Reserve Forests, Biosphere Reserves, National Marine
Parks, Coastal Regulation Zone – I and Hill Stations. Initiatives Taken for
Eastern Ghats The Eastern Ghats form a broken chain of mountainous terrain
spreading in the states of Orissa, Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu and two
districts of Karnataka. The jurisdiction is covered in four sections,
namely-Northern-Eastern Ghatswhich covers the area above Mahanadi to Northern
boundary of Orissa- Mayurbhanj district. Other three sections are river Mahanadi
to river Godavari, river Krishna to Chennai city and southern ghats i.e. tract
between Chennai and Nilgiri hills to river Vaigai. Seshachalam hill ranges of
Andhra Pradesh have been designated as Biosphere Reserve. Several Wildlife
Sanctuaries have been established in the Eastern Ghats to preserve its
Biodiversity. These include Gundla Brahmeswaram, Kambalakonda,
Kaundinya,Nagarjunsagar- Srisailam, Papikonda, Pocharam, Rollapadu,Sri
Lankamallesqaram, Sri Penisula Narasimha and Sri Venkateswara Wildlife

Botanical Survey of India (BSI) has published several floras
to document on the biodiversity of Eastern Ghats. These are Flora of Tamil Nadu
(including districts of Eastern Ghats), Flora of Nallamalais, Flora of
Visakhapatnam, Flora of Nellore, Flora ofVenkateshwara Wildlife Sanctuary, Flora
of Araku Valley , Flora of Nagarjuankonda, Flora of Maredumalai, Flora of Medak
and Flora of Chittor District.

Zooligical Survey of India(ZSI) has also taken steps to
document the faunal resources in the Eastern Ghats. It has published under State
Fauna series the Fauna of Andhra Pradesh in eight volumes and the Fauna of
Tamilnadu in two volumes, both of which contain the fauna of Eastern Ghats also.

Fifteen wetlands have been identified in Andhra Pradesh,
Orissa, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal for management and conservation. Sixteen
Mangroves sites have been identified in Andhra Pradesh, Orissa, Tamil Nadu and
West Bengal for the protection of Mangroves. The Ministry has established
National Mangrove Genetic Resources Centre in Orissa. A National Biodiversity
Authority has been set up and as per Biodiversity Act, 2002,  seven
Biodiversity Management Committees (BMCs) have been formed to document and
preserve the biodiversity in the Eastern Ghats. The model People’s Biodiversity
Register (PBR) has also been issued to the State Biodiversity Boards to
facilitate the preparation of PBRs (documenting biodiversity and associated
knowledge) by these Biodiversity Management Committees. Environmental
Information System Center of Eastern Ghats Environment Protection Training and
Research Institute (EPTRI), Hyderabad and Ministry of Environment and Forests,
signed aMemorandum of Understanding in March 1994 for setting up of
Environmental Aspects of Eastern Ghats as its subject.

The jurisdiction of the Eastern Ghats extends in the States
of Orissa, Tamil Nadu, Andhra Pradesh and parts of Karnataka. An ENVIS
Coordination Committee was set up as per the MoU to guide the development and
work of the ENVIS Center. The Committee comprises of experts from various
disciplines with representation from the concerned states and including
representatives from the Ministry of Environment and Forests.

The “Tirupati Statement” on Conservation of Eastern Ghats was
drawn in 2002 atTirupati, Andhra Pradesh. The Statement also pointed out the
role of the various stake holders to launch a comprehensive scheme for the
conservation of Eastern Ghats on the lines of Western Ghats Development and
Hills Area Development programme.

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