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Eco-sensitive tag for biodiversity hotspots

The Centre has proposed to declare two famous biodiversity spots in Meghalaya eco-sensitive zones.

By Andrew W. Lyngdoh in Shilong
  • Published 30.11.15
Nokrek National Park

Shillong, Nov. 29: The Centre has proposed to declare two famous biodiversity spots in Meghalaya eco-sensitive zones.

The Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change has issued two draft notifications, proposing to declare the areas around the Nokrek National Park in Garo hills and Narpuh wildlife sanctuary in the East Jaintia Hills eco-sensitive zones.

These draft notifications have been published in the Gazette of India on November 17, and November 20, 2015.

The November 17 notification said the national park is located at the tri-junction of East Garo Hills, West Garo Hills and South Garo Hills districts. The area comprises hilly terrain, on the Tura range and its surrounding area is the principal watershed for the three districts. The park also forms an important catchment area of a major river system, that feeds low-lying areas of Garo hills.

Major rivers originating from this area include the Simsang, Ganol, Dareng, Nitai, Bhugai and others.

The area has loamy soil and a tropical climate characterised by high rainfall and humidity, moderate winter and mild summer seasons.

"The special feature of the area is abundant natural occurrence of Citrus indica tanaka (wild orange) and it seems to be the most primitive and perhaps the progenitor of Citrus spp. and this is an endangered and endemic species to Nokrek biosphere reserve," the notification said.

The area is a haven of rare, endangered and endemic species like hoolock gibbons and is part of one of the "global hotspots of biodiversity".

In the notification, the Centre proposed to notify an area between 2km and 8km from the boundary of the Nokrek National Park as the Nokrek National Park Eco-sensitive Zone. The total area of the proposed zone is around 27,148 hectares.

There are nearly 49 villages falling within the proposed zone, including Rongkugre, Dura Asim and Awegre.

For the Narpuh wildlife sanctuary in East Jaintia Hills, the notification of November 20 said, "The sanctuary is bound by reserve forests around it, except a part of southwest and eastern areas which are bound by villages and Assam. The northern part is bound by the Lukha river forming a physical barrier. The entire area is very rich in plant and animal species, which are of ecological and medicinal significance."

It said the sanctuary is one of the few remaining wildlife habitats and is home to species like hoolock gibbon, serow, slow loris, sloth bear, large Indian civet, leopard cat, clouded leopard, barking deer and varieties of squirrels and fruit bats. The Narpuh Reserved Block II, the notification said, is also the habitat of varieties of birds, Indian horn bulls, butterflies and fish of different varieties, some of which are endangered.

The area of the proposed eco-sensitive zone is around 142.60 square km. There are 11 villages falling within the zone including Kuliang, Malidor, Umkiang and Sonapyrdi.

The Meghalaya government will have to prepare zonal masterplans within two years from the date of publication of final notification in the o#fficial #gazette, in consultation with local residents and adhering to stipulations given in the notifications.

The two notifications, while laying down the list of activities prohibited or to be regulated within the eco-sensitive zones, said all activities in the zones would be governed by the provisions of the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.

Prohibited activities include commercial mining, stone quarrying and crushing units, setting up of sawmills and industries causing water, soil, air or noise pollution, commercial use of firewood, use of plastic bags and others.

Regulated activities include construction of hotels and resorts, felling of trees and extraction of groundwater.

The notifications have also proposed setting up of an eco-sensitive monitoring committee for the two zones.

The draft notifications would be taken into consideration on or after the expiry of a period of 60 days from the date on which copies of the gazette, containing the notifications, are made available to public.