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Current Affairs

Eco-sensitive zone in Narmada district

Date: 31 December 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous

Issue

Many local communities are protesting against Centre’s notification classifying 121 villages around the Shoolpaneshwar Wildlife Sanctuary in Narmada district as eco-sensitive zones.

 

Background

Protests have been taking place since the district administration served the first notice to execute the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) order.

 

Details

  • Tribals, especially from the Tadvi and Vasava communities, have been on the edge ever since Kevadia was developed into a tourism circuit around the Statue of Unity.

  • They feel the simultaneous implementation of the two government decisions could dilute the “power” vested with villagers under the Panchayat (Extension of Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996, implemented in areas notified under Schedule V of the Constitution.

 

Provisions of the notification

  • Firstly, land falling in the eco-sensitive zone — including those belonging to the forest department, horticulture department, that used for agricultural use, and plots reserved for parks — cannot be transferred for non-agricultural use for commercial, industrial or residential purposes.

  • Any land that needs to be transferred can be done so only after approval from the state government.

  • Second, a process has been initiated to include the state government as the co-owner of the land in the 121 villages.

 

PESA

  • The Provisions of the Panchayats (Extension to Scheduled Areas) Act, 1996 or PESA is a law enacted by the Government of India for ensuring self governance through traditional Gram Sabhas for people living in the Scheduled Areas of India.

  • Scheduled Areas are areas identified by the Fifth Schedule of the Constitution of India and distributed across the country.

  • Scheduled Areas are found in ten states of India which have predominant population of tribal communities.

  • The Scheduled Areas were not covered by the 73rd Constitutional Amendment or Panchayati Raj Act of the Indian Constitution as provided in the Part IX of the Constitution. 

  • While the provisions of the law deem the gram sabhas as “most competent” to deal with matters related to their territories for safeguarding their customs, traditions as well as the natural resources in the tribal areas, the Act has not been enforced in letter and spirit.