Seraikela: Villagers from 136 villages along Dalma foothill today staged mass demonstration against demarcation of Dalma Eco Sensitive Zone in front of Seraikela DC office.
Angry villagers said that they would lose livelihoods while facing eviction threats as the department of forest would impose restrictions under the purview of Eco Sensitive Zone guidelines.
Peeved over the announcements of Union Department of Forests and Environment the villagers said that the government was up to evict the villagers living on the fringes of the sanctuary area. It would rob the livelihood of thousands of local residents, they said. Villagers gathered in large numbers to vent their ire against declaration of Dalma Eco Sensitive Zones.
To stem the threats of degradation of ecological system the Union Ministry of Forests and Environment has declared the Dalma Wildlife Sanctuary as eco-sensitive zone.
As per the notification, the entire forest zone spread over an area of 522.98 sq kilometers, housing 85 villages inside the forest and 51 villages on its periphery has been kept out of bounds for any type of permanent structures.
The area up to five kilometers from the boundary of the protected Dalma Sanctuary constitutes the part of the eco-sensitive zone. The eco-sensitive zone covers an area of 377.89 sq km that falls in East Singhbhum and another 145.09 sq km that is in Seraikela-kharsawan district.
The notification has stipulated that no concrete construction work can be undertaken within 300 metres of the sanctuary while no industrial, mining, crushing, wood-based industries, saw mills and such commercial activities would be allowed within the five km radius from the boundary of the sanctuary area.
The Centre had to swing into action in keeping with increasing incidences of illegal construction and mining activities undertaken by some elements in the protected forest areas in connivance with local officials.
The notification also calls upon the State Government to draw up the Dalma zonal master plan within a year, which is to be approved by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests.
After being reprimanded by the Centre a number of times, the Jharkhand forest department started to act around three years ago.
After months of survey, it identified a 10 km protective belt around Dalma and submitted a plan to the Centre in March 2011. On March 29, 2012, the Union ministry notified a 0-5km radius as eco-sensitive zone around Dalma, which roughly demarcated as a prohibited area for any sort of industrial activity that may threaten the sanctity of the elephant reserve.
Today leaders from JMM and BJP came together in support of the villagers. Present at the agitation were Seraikela MLA Champai Soren, Kharsawan MLA Krishna Gagrai, Ichagarh MLA Sadhu Charan Mahato, former legislator Dulal Bhuiyan and former MLA Ramdas Soren.
A section of the agitators also vandalized a roadside hotel and a shop during the agitation.