Aravalli could lose as much as 30% of its forest cover, if sources are to believe
The Town and Country Planning Department of Haryana has written to NCR Planning Board to delete the limit on construction of 0.5% in the Natural Conservation Zone (NCZ), NDTV has learnt.
Over 95% of the forest cover of the NCR is in the Aravalli hills of south Haryana.
As per the Regional Plan 2021, NCR restricts construction in Natural Conservation zone to 0.5%. The plan prevents construction and protects the Aravalli hills.
“It is these private interests who will benefit from lifting the cap on construction in the NCZ at the expense of the common citizens, people of Gurgaon and Faridabad will suffer,” says Chetan Agarwal, Forest and Environmental Analyst.
The effort to promote non-forest activities in the Aravali are not new. In 2013-14 too, the then Haryana government had also sought to delete this limit on construction in the NCZ. However, after examination, intervention of the PMO and inputs from the Ministry of Environment, the limit was retained.
Private players have also attempted to encroach the Aravalli in the past. One such region is the Gwalpahari in Haryana where attempts have been made to privatise the land.
This Aravalli land belonged earlier to the panchayats. Environmentalists say that it was fraudulently encroached.
The issue flared up after Muncipal Corporation of Gurgaon issued eviction notice to all 322 private entities in possession of the land. The area is currently under litigation.
Similarly, there have been attempts made to privatise Aravalli hills in other villages like Bandhwari, Mangar and Ghata. Experts say that if construction in the Aravalli is allowed, then the current low level of forest cover at 3.58% will further reduce.
“The Aravali area has been on the radar of builders, land mafia and colonizers for 30 years. They have taken-up cheaper panchayat land, converted it into community land and now wish to sell it off for higher prices. The only obstacle in their path is the forest conservation Act,” says RP Balwan, Retired Forest Conservator.
Environmentalists are requesting the government to assess the impact of this on forests, wildlife and groundwater security before going ahead with the said proposal.
“If the limit is removed then over 1.5 lakh acres of Aravalli hills of south Haryana will be threatened by real estate, and virtually all the little remaining forest of south Haryana, which is concentrated in the Aravalli hills will be at risk, especially in the region adjacent to Delhi,” Agarwal adds.