Activists oppose govt’s move to reduce Asola Bhatti buffer zone

  • HTC , Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
  • Updated: Apr 22, 2016 21:32 IST

Green activists and forest officials have opposed the state government’s move to reduce the eco-sensitive zone of Asola Wildlife Sanctuary from 10 kilometres to 100 metres.

Terming the move as an “eye-wash”, environmentalists said they will approach the court regarding the issue.

“It’s a joke that the government is making a 100-metre buffer zone. This clearly shows how sensitive the government is about the environment and forest area,” said Amit Chaudhery, environmentalist.

Green activists said the proposed draft will leave out important Aravalli areas such as lakes, lake catchments, sacred groves and Aravalli hills. These are not just important wildlife habitats. They serve as groundwater recharging zones and a wildlife corridor.

“The proposed 100-metre buffer leaves out more than 95% of the Aravalli hill area that is crucial to the viability of the Asola Bhatti Sanctuary,” said Chetan Agarwal, environmental analyst.

Another objection raised by environmentalists is that the Aravalli hills that falls in Haryana is an important habitat for the wildlife in the region and needs to be conserved at any cost.

“Haryana Aravallis are of great importance. The region provides connectivity between Asola in Delhi and the Sariska Tiger Reserve in Haryana. The buffer zone should have been at least 2 km,” said Chaudhery.

He also pointed out that the government is trying to please the real estate lobby by reducing the eco-sensitive zone.

Meanwhile, the forest department said that these drafts and proposals will not be implemented as they do not hold any power under the Environment Protection Act. “We cannot enforce any action in the buffer zone of any sanctuary or national park. Even if the government is making a proper buffer zone, it will not be implemented on the ground till we have the power to do so,” said MD Sihna, conservator of forest.

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