ANI Photo | SC allows Kerala’s review petition seeking modification of 2022 ruling on 1km Eco-Sensitive Zone

The Supreme Court has allowed the petition of the Kerala government where it sought a review of the apex court’s earlier verdict which banned mining activities in protected forests and made it mandatory for them to have an Eco-Sensitive Zone (ESZ) of one km.
A bench of Justices Sanjiv Khanna, BR Gavai and Aniruddha Bose, in its December 5 order said, “The review petition is disposed of by modifying the judgment under review in terms of the directions and findings recorded in the order dated April 26, 2023 passed in various interlocutory applications…”
On April 26 this year, the top court had modified its directions issued in the 2022 judgment to have mandatory eco-sensitive zones (ESZ) of a minimum of one kilometre around protected forests, national parks and wildlife sanctuaries across the country. It had reasoned that ESZ cannot be uniform across the country and has to be “protected area-specific”.
In June 2022, the apex court had ordered the one km buffer zone for protected areas to act as a “shock absorber”.
However, the Centre and several States, including Kerala, had returned to the top court seeking modification of the June 2022 judgment, saying the judicial direction affected hundreds of villages in the peripheries of forests.
On their pleas, the apex court had modified its judgement and had said its directive would not be applicable where national parks and sanctuaries are located on inter-state borders and share common boundaries.
It had said the 2022 directions will also not be applicable to the draft and final notifications in respect of national parks and sanctuaries issued by the environment ministry as also the proposals that have been received by the ministry.
The Kerala government in its review petition had sought modification of the June 3, 2022 verdict of the top court and sought exclusion of inhabited areas from the proposed ESZ

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