The Haryana government on Wednesday constituted a body under the chairmanship of divisional commissioner of Gurgaon to evaluate the status of areas in the Aravallis covered under sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900.
The body aims to provide a clear picture of the ground reality in the 1.25 lakh-hectares of the Aravallis. “We will be able to complete the process within two months. We are taking the help of revenue records to determine the status of the areas,” said D Suresh, divisional commissioner, Gurgaon.
The districts involved in this exercise are Gurgaon, Faridabad, Panchkula, Ambala, Yamunanagar, Mewat, Palwal, Rewari, Mahendragarh, Karnal, Jhajjar, Rohtak and Bhiwani.
Apart from the divisional commissioner, the body includes the deputy commissioner, divisional forest officer, district revenue officer, district development and panchayat officer.
The committee can obtain all relevant government records from departments and agencies concerned to examine the status and land use of the areas marked as ‘forests’ as on October 25, 1980.
“We are using the revenue records to determine the land use status. Although we asked the Haryana Space Applications Centre (Harsac) for satellite image of the area in 1980s, they failed to provide it to us. Thus, we are now dependent on the revenue records, which are in a poor state,” said Suresh.
He added that there are certain parameters laid by the Supreme Court in the BS Sandhu vs Government of India & Others judgment of 2014 that they are to go by. “We have been asked to follow that order and evaluate the status of PLPA land,” he added.
Around 1,00,000 hectares fall under the Aravallis in southern Haryana. More than 25,000 hectares are identified as forest under sections 4 and 5 of PLPA and around 62,000 hectares have been identified as Natural Conservation Zones (NCZs). Another 12,800 hectares have been kept under the ‘yet to be decided’ category.
According to environmentalists, this exercise will dilute the forest cover of the region as the revenue records do not paint a clear picture. “There is hardly any mention of forest land in the revenue records. Going by the revenue records, the state will lose 90% of the forest land,” said Vivek Kamboj, an environmentalist.