Gurgaon: After govt nod, 10,000 trees felled in the Aravallis
A Harayana government official said the area in the Aravallis where tree felling was cleared does not fall under Natural Conservation Zone (NCZ)gurgaon Updated: Jun 26, 2017 23:09 IST
After the Haryana government cleared the felling of more than 10,000 trees in the Aravallis for construction of a real estate project, on Sunday, the region saw large-scale chopping of trees over 52 acres at Sarai Khwaja village in Faridabad district.
At a time when environment activists have already raised concern over the shrinking of Gurgaon’s green cover, the decision by the state government to clear vegetation in the eco-sensitive and protected Aravalli region in order to free up space for a construction project, will only serve raise the hackles of the green crusaders.
Though the Aravalli region comes within the ambit of Natural Conservation Zone (NCZ) and the issue over clearing vegetation for public or commercial projects in the region is sub-judice and awaiting arbitration by the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the state’s hurried clearance for tree felling in the region has evoked concern.
Under the NCZ category of the Regional Plan 2021, construction activities beyond 0.5% of the Aravallis are not allowed and only projects aimed at encouraging recreational activities and conserving the region are to be cleared.
“As was discussed in the NCR Planning Board meeting on December 20, 2016, the area where tree felling was allowed falls outside the ambit of the NCZ. We are in the process of holding further discussions for more clarity on the definition of ‘forest land’. The area in question falls in the Aravalli ‘gair mumkin pahar’ category,” Sunil Gulati, additional chief secretary to the Haryana government, Wild Life and Forest Department, said.
However, sources privy to the minutes of the NCR Planning Board meeting said they state completely the opposite of what the state government claimed to justify issuing the order to chop trees in the Aravallis.
A note circulated after the meeting states, “The NCZ has been clearly spelt out in the regional plan 2021. The component of NCZ includes forest, Aravalli and groundwater recharging areas which are to be governed by notification of Moef and order of Supreme Court. (sic).”
“Notification dated 7th May, 1992 issued by the MoEF&CC defines “specified areas” of the Aravalli range in Gurgaon district of the state of Haryana and Alwar District of the State of Rajasthan (as on the date of the said Notification). During the meetings, it was concluded that these specified areas are to be included while identifying/delineating ‘Aravalli’ in the entire NCR. Therefore, the issue related to ‘definition’ has been adequately addressed. The NCR participating State Govts. have to accordingly delineate the NCZ, after detailed ground truthing (sic),” said the note.
Environment activists said that the gair mumkin pahar category pertain to forest land and hence, need to be protected.
“This move will dilute the restrictions in place in 90% of the Aravallis and every other project in the region, which is pending approval, will be cleared,” Vivek Kamboj, an environment activist, said.
Another activist, Chetan Agarwal, said, “The polices of the government should be aimed at protecting the forest cover, as Haryana has less than 4% of forest area.”