New Delhi : The Environment and Forest Ministry on Thursday notified area up to 10 kilometres from the boundary of Melaghat Tiger Reserve and surrounding Gugamal National Park, Wan, Ambabrwa and Narnala sanctuaries spread over the districts of Amravati, Akola and Buldana as eco-sensitive zone, prohibiting constructions and polluting industries.

The eco-sensitive zone covers villages in the talukas of Dharni, Chikhaldara, Chikali, Motala, Khamgaon, Akot, Buldhana and Sangrampur, the notification said, spreading that it is spread over an area of 1.27 lakh hectares with an extent from 2.2 km to 14.85 km from the boundary of the Melghat Tiger Reserve. These extents are, however, applicable only to Maharashtra as a separate eco-sensitive zone shall be considered with regards to the boundary adjoining Madhya Pradesh.

The notification directs the Maharashtra Government to prepare a zonal master plan for the eco-sensitive zone within two years but in consultation with the local people, municipals and panchayats.

It says the master plan shall not impose any restrictions on the approved existing land use, infrastructure and activities and it shall provide for restoration of the denuded areas and conservation of the existing water bodies.

The prohibited activities in the eco-sensitive zone include commercial mining, stone quarrying and crushing, saw mills, industries causing air, water, soil or noise pollution, new major hydroelectric projects and commercial use of firewood. The notification bans establishment of any new wood-based industry, but not so if it uses 100% imported wood stock.

No new commercial construction will be permitted within 1 km of the boundary of the protected area. However, for eco-friendly tourism, hotel and resorts will be allowed beyond one km, provided they are in conformity with the eco-tourism master plan and the National Tiger Conservation Authority gidelines.

Local people are allowed to build in their land for residential use while the non-polluting small industries will also be permitted, but with total prohibition on felling of trees on government or private land without prior permission by the competent authority.

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