In a major goof-up, the Haryana forest department had failed to include two tehsils in Gurgaon — Manesar and Farrukhnagar — in the re-notified Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900.
The ‘a clerical mistake’ has serious repercussions on the city’s greenery, as legally, the department has no power to enforce the laws in these areas until the error is corrected.
“We have sent the file for correction. A fresh notification is likely within a fortnight,” said Pankaj Goel, conservator of forest, Gurgaon, admitting to the blunder at the divisional office level.
The Act bans all kinds of activities that endanger the green cover in notified areas. By not including two tehsils in the re-notification, the forest department has lost its power to check felling of trees, land grab or any other illegal activity that endangers green cover.
Manesar, which became a tehsil in 2009, has been a ‘lawless land’ with regard to forest laws for the past four years. The situation is similar in Farrukhnagar after it became a tehsil in 2007.
Environmentalists, however, say the move was deliberate. “If it was just a clerical mistake, why was the department sitting on it for so long. They should have corrected it immediately,” said Sanjay Kaushik, founder of Uthaan, an NGO which works for the environment.
With real estate development nearing its saturation point in Gurgaon, Manesar and Farrukhnagar, are the becoming hotspots for developers and industrialists.
“The forest officials don’t understand the gravity of the situation. Because of this error, lakhs of trees are in danger. If it was a clerical mistake, some action would have been taken against concerned officials.
"The department doesn’t even have a count of the number of trees axed in these two tehsils during this period,” said Vivek Khamboj, an environmentalist with NGO Hariyali.
In a similar case earlier, Section 4 of the PLPA 1900 — which gives the department power to regulate, restrict or prohibit offenders from carrying out non-forestry activities in notified areas — was not renewed on time in Gurgaon before it expired on November 27, 2012.
The re-notification came nearly two months later, on January 4, 2013.
Till then, the district had no legal cover to protect its green stretches. According to government guidelines, the Act has to be re-notified after every 15 years.
The latest notification dated January 4 lists tehsils under every district in Haryana but leaves out Manesar and Farrukhnagar under Gurgaon district.
“… In exercise of powers conferred by Section 4 of the said Act (PLP), the Governor of Haryana hereby prohibits the following acts for a period of fifteen years with effect from the date of publication of this order in the Official Gazette in the areas more particularly specified in the Schedule given below, which has been notified under Section 3 of the said Act, vide Haryana Government’s Forest Department, the order says.
According to the notification, the Act applies for “all the revenue estates of tehsils” of Gurgaon, Sohna and Pataudi, missing the additional areas.