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Pong Dam Eco-Sensitive Zone

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • The Himachal Pradesh state government is undertaking a re-evaluation of the eco-sensitive zone boundaries around Pong Dam to address challenges faced by the local population and to support agricultural activities, particularly during periods of low water levels.

About Eco Sensitive Zones (ESZ)

  • ESZ, or Ecologically Fragile Areas, are designated areas around protected regions such as national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, notified by the Ministry of Environment in India.
  • The primary aim of declaring an area as an ESZ is to act as a “shock absorber,” regulating and managing human activities around protected areas to preserve ecological balance.

Pong Dam Wildlife Sanctuary

  • Situated in the Kangra district of Himachal Pradesh, it is also known as Pong Dam Reservoir or Pong Dam Lake.
  • The dam was constructed in 1975 and was subsequently declared a wildlife sanctuary in 1983.
  • Recognized internationally, the Pong Dam Lake was designated as a Ramsar Site in 2002, highlighting its importance in terms of wetland conservation.
  • The lake is primarily fed by the Beas River and several perennial tributaries including Gaj, Neogal, Binwa, Uhl, Bangana, and Baner.
  • The sanctuary area is characterized by tropical and subtropical forests, housing diverse flora.
  • The region features a variety of vegetation, including Acacia, Jamun, Shisham, Mango, Mulberry, Ficus Kachnar, Amla, and Prunus.
  • Rich in biodiversity, the sanctuary is home to animals such as Sambhar, Barking Deer, Wild Bear, Nilgai, Clawless Otter, and Leopards.
  • The lake hosts a variety of avian species, with the Bar Headed Geese being the flagship species. Other notable species include Eurasian Coot, Northern Pintail, Common Teal, Great Cormorant, GreyLag Goose, among others.
  • A unique initiative in Pong involves a Vulture Café where cattle carcasses are dumped, providing a crucial feeding spot for vultures, contributing to vulture conservation efforts.

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