Only 100 metres of the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, which spreads across Delhi and Gurgaon and is located next to the fragile Aravallis hills, will be declared as an eco-sensitive zone (ESZ) in Haryana.
The protected zone will leave out a major chunk of the forest area, home to wildlife, which is under constant threat of encroachment.
The state government has finalised a proposal and submitted it to the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) for approval.
The committee headed by the deputy commissioner of Gurgaon proposed the 100-metre eco-zone on the Haryana side.
“This 100 metres is in area where there is no physical structure. The committee has made the Gurgoan-Faridabad road as the boundary of the ESZ. The district town planner suggested that the area of Gual Pahari and Faridabad be kept outside the eco-sensitive zone,” said the draft.
The forest department of Haryana had proposed a one kilometre area for the eco-zone. “We do not have any power under the Environment Protection Act to decide the eco-sensitive zone,” said MD Sinha, conservator of forests.
Environmentalists Chetan Agarwal, Col Oberoi and Amina Sherwani said even one kilometre as buffer zone is too less since it leaves out the vast Aravalli hills crucial for the of Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.
The Delhi government has been pursuing the eco-sensitive zone issue with Haryana for a long time now because the states share an important wildlife corridor.
Leopards, striped hyenas and jackals use this corridor from either side. But increasing encroachments and infrastructure projects have been eating into the area.
In 2011, the ministry of environment and forests and climate change had issued guidelines to all state governments to declare ESZs around their respective forests following a Supreme Court order.
In cases where sensitive corridors and ecologically important patches have a width even beyond 10km, these should be included in the eco-sensitive zone, say the guidelines.