The Delhi forest department has halted the construction of a nearly 1-km-long wall in southern Ridge at the Delhi-Haryana border.
The department was building the wall, with an average height of 2.5 metres, to maintain the reserve forest “in its pristine glory” by curbing encroachment, cattle grazing and movement of vehicles.
The work on the controversial project at village Ghitorni near Gurgaon (Haryana) and Vasant Kunj (Delhi) was stopped after environmentalists complained to Delhi’s Lt. Governor Najeeb Jung that the wall would completely stop the movement of animals like Neelgai, jackals.
“It will also be a barrier, keeping people of two states from enjoying a vast green area, some of which has already been lost to urbanisation,” the environmentalists said.
“Your intervention can help preserve this area as one contiguous vital lung for the residents of both Delhi and Gurgaon and save the government some money. The wall is higher and more obtrusive than most jail walls,” they said.
The L-G reportedly took “a strong view” of the matter and asked the forest department to review the project. Delhi forest department head GN Sinha confirmed to HT that the work has been stopped. “The wall we were building looked quite monolithic. We’re looking at tweaking its design to ensure ridge conservation while not creating massive, permanent barriers for people and wildlife,” he said.
Sinha said the problem was not only limited to Ghitorni. “Frequent construction of walls has reduced the visibility of our forests. We’re looking at three-four possible solutions.” He, however, asserted there were no “written instructions” from the L-G office to halt the project.
Delhi’s department of Irrigation & Flood Control was building the 940-metre-long wall on behalf of the forest department. A stretch of about 300 metres had been raised to the desired height till the work was stopped.
On the other side of the wall, at village Nathupur, the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon is building an Aravalli Biodiversity Park, which envisages heavy footfalls.
In its defence, the Delhi forest had, during construction, said the wall was being built to keep wild animals from being scared by human activity. Besides, barbed wires in the park were a potential hazard to animals and birds. Wildlife conservationists prohibit use of such materials as these can injure animals.
The forest department also built walls in central ridge “to check encroachment and dumping of garbage.”
The decisions taken
Forest dept will protect Ghitorni forest without a wall on Delhi-Gurgaon border until it’s “absolutely essential” to do so Construction of the existing wall suspended, but efforts will be made to stop garbage dumping, encroachment.
New plan will ensure the wall doesn’t obstruct vision and movement of wildlife.