With a view to preserve the Aravalli forest area, the NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) has decided to expand the area of Aravalli notification 1992 to cover all uncultivable hill land, rocky and sandy areas in the ecologically sensitive Aravallis in the entire National Capital Region (NCR).
The announcement is likely to clear the air with the regard to the definition of gair mumkin pahar (uncultivable land) and bhood (foothills). The decision has brought new hope among environmentalists as it will help conserve the Aravalli range — the oldest fold mountain range in India — and also revive the groundwater table in the region.
The Aravalli mountain range spreads across Rajasthan, Haryana, and parts of Delhi.
“Haryana representatives always admitted that there are areas that may have once been part of the Aravallis or johad (pond), but do not exist as such at present on any government record. Hence, permissions for construction was given in these areas,” said Vivek Kamboj, environmentalist.
Outlining the history behind the formation and classification of natural conservation zones (NCZ) — from the Regional Plan 2001 and the views of the Supreme Court in 2004 — the NCRPB advisors said the Aravallis must be protected at any cost.
As of now, 62,000 hectares in Haryana has been identified as NCZ, while another 12,800 hectares has been put under ‘yet to be decided NCZ’.
Also, it was mentioned in the discussion that the Aravalli region has been specified in the Aravalli Notification of May 7, 2002. These “specified areas” are to be included while identifying/delineating Aravallis in the entire NCR.
NCRPB also directed that gair mumkim pahar (uncultivable hill), rocky and sandy land (boodh), rundh (land enclosed between hills or grassland), rada (rocky land beyond the foothills), behed (ravines) and beed (jungle) will now be part of the Aravallis. All these areas were not recorded as forests in government records.
Inspector General (IG), forests, said parameters for defining Aravallis cannot be different in different states. “Aravalli should be considered as an integral environmental system and not merely as hill/ridge. The rainwater flows from the hills to the foothills and thus contiguous foothills are extremely important from the perspective of ground water recharge,” he said.
As the ecosystem supports a wide variety of flora and fauna, the process of delineation and conservation should also be integrated in nature, the minutes of the meeting quoted the IG.
“A large part of forest area is outside the Aravalli protection zone — in the ‘to be decided/confirmed’ category. Now, these areas will have to also be part of the NCZ,” said SS oberio, green activist.