Green activists want national park status for eco-fragile Mangar Bani

  • Ipsita Pati, Hindustan Times, Gurgaon
  • Updated: Feb 05, 2016 11:28 IST
Mangar Bani is the only sacred grove in north India. (Parveen Kumar/HT File Photo)

A day after Mangar was demarcated as protected forest and the area of the last remaining scared grove in north India increased, environmentalists have started brainstorming on ways to save the entire Aravalli range extending from Delhi to Gujarat. This would include getting Mangar Bani a sanctuary or national park status.

On Wednesday, a committee appointed by Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar notified 677.12 acres of Managar as protected forest. The committee also increased the area of Mangar Bani from 1,136.4 acres to 1,266.91 acres.

The green activists welcomed the government’s move, but said a lot more has to be done to save the entire Aravalli that faces constant threat from developers and encroachers.

“We welcome the move to demarcate Mangar Bani and its buffer zone as a ‘no construction zone’. The time has come to notify Mangar Bani as a sanctuary or national park to accord permanent protection for future generations,” Chetan Agarwal, an environmentalist analyst, said.

The status of Mangar Bani has long been a contentious issue. Encroachments and tree felling are common in the area and often go unchecked due to flaws in planning.

For instance, the Mangar Draft Development Plan (DDP) 2031 does not include Mangar Bani or the Aravallis in it. If included in the plan, the areas get a protected forest status, which means tree felling and construction are banned.

Another flaw was that in July 2014 the revenue department reduced the area of Mangar Bani to around 165 acres in a faulty demarcation.

“We are finally on the right path. We appreciate the government’s decision but this is just one small step. In the next 10 days, I will send a legal notice to all government departments and the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) to develop a wildlife corridor from Sariska to Asola. The corridor should have an eco-sensitive zone of 10km. I will also write to them about increasing the buffer zone in Mangar to 1km,” Col SS Oberoi, a legal activist, said.

Additionally, the Haryana CM approved the scientific principle of watershed ridgeline approach to delineate Margar Bani. A watershed is a piece of land that channels all rivers and streams, rainfall and surface runoff to one specific point. It extends from a point of high elevation, such as a ridgeline, down to a low point where the water flows into creek, river, bay, ocean or other waterbodies.

“Though this is a small step, it paves the way for increasing the forest cover in the future,” Vivek Kamboj, environmental activist, said.

Latika Thukral of iamgurgaon, an NGO, said, “We are excited about the development and hope that in future the buffer area can also be turned into a dense forest, This will leave no scope for encroachment.”

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