Jairam Ramesh against reducing buffer zones around Goa sanctuaries

Panaji, Aug 31 (Inditop.com) The central government is not in favour of Goa’s recommendation to reduce the buffer zones around the sanctuaries in the state, Minister of State for Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh said here.

The central government will not be “sympathetic to any move by the state government to reduce buffer zones in the state’s wildlife sanctuaries to zero kilometres”, Ramesh told Inditop Sunday.

“While a uniform 10-km buffer zone may not be applicable, a zero buffer zone will not be accepted as far as I am the minister for environment and forests,” said Ramesh, who was in Goa to attend a public consultative session on the Coastal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) with people living in coastal areas.

Chief Minister Digambar Kamat, who had earlier endorsed the report that recommends reduction of buffer zones in three wildlife sanctuaries namely Bhagwan Mahaveer, Netravali and Mhadei to zero metres, was also present on the occasion.

All the three sanctuaries fringe the mining belt and green activists claim that the report prepared by the state government and submitted to the Central Wildlife Board is only aimed at making way for mining companies to further expand their operations right up to the edge of the sanctuaries.

The ‘Report on Wildlife sanctuaries and eco sensitive zones of Goa’ was prepared by Rajiv Yaduvanshi, who is secretary mines and is presently attached to the chief minister’s office.

The report was compiled after conducting field inspections and the high-level committee, which drafted the document, included the concerned district collectors, director of mines, director of tourism and chief conservator of forests, among others.

Incidentally, Goa government’s draft mineral policy, which was tabled in the monsoon session of the state assembly, also advocates mining in ‘close vicinity’ of wildlife sanctuaries.

Chief minister Digambar Kamat and several members of his cabinet have been in the opposition’s cross hairs during the last couple of assembly sessions, with the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) claiming that the government was sheltering rampant illegal mining in the state.

Leader of Opposition Manohar Parrikar had also alleged that nearly 18 percent of Goa’s 33 million tonnes iron, manganese and bauxite mining exports were fed by illegal mining. There are presently more than 100 mining leases in the state.