BENGALURU: The Centre has notified the Brahmagiri Wildlife Sanctuary in Kodagu district as an Eco Sensitive Zone (ESZ) with effect from May 26. The region, which includes the entire forest areas of Brahmagiri Ghat and Urti reserve forests, was declared a sanctuary in 1974.
As per the notification, the ESZ will comprise a geographical area of 136.60 sqkm (excluding enclosures) with an extent varying from 1km to 16 km around the boundary of the sanctuary. With the announcement of the ESZ, commercial mining, setting up of pollution causing industries, major hydroelectric projects, production of hazardous substances, big commercial livestock and poultry, new saw mills, brick kilns and commercial use of firewood will be prohibited.
Further, with this order, prevailing land use—forests, horticulture and agricultural areas, parks and open spaces earmarked for recreational purposes in the ESZ shall not be converted into areas for major commercial or major residential complex or industrial activities. No new construction of hotels or resorts will be permitted within 1 km from the boundary of the sanctuary.
Any new tourism activity or expansion of existing tourism activities within this zone will have to be in accordance with central and NTCA guidelines.
Spread across 181.29 sqkm, Brahmagiri lies in the core of the Western Ghats and is characterised by
rugged terrain with slopes and receives rainfall ranging from 2,500 to 6,000 mm.
The Union government has also set up a Monitoring Committee comprising eight members under the chairmanship of the Regional
Commissioner, Mysuru, for a period of three years for effective monitoring of the Brahmagiri Eco Sensitive Zone.
Wildlife activists from Kodagu said, “We hope with this, commercial exploitation and conversion of land use comes to a stop as there has been haphazard development and illegal expansion of such activities. With local people selling off their coffee estates and paddy fields to outsiders, many big commercial projects have come up in these regions, thereby adversely affecting the wildlife habitat,” they said.