The NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) will hold a meeting on Tuesday to decide on the definition of forests and Aravallis. In October, it had decided to expand the area falling under the Aravalli notification, 1992, from Gurgaon to the entire national capital region (NCR). However, there has been no development since then.
According to Rajesh Kaushik, district town planner of Haryana Urban Development Authority (Huda), the meeting on December 20 will discuss interstate road connectivity and the definition of forest and Aravallis. It will be held under the chairmanship of Rajiv Gauba, secretary, Union Ministry of Urban Development.
The NCRPB had also directed in October that gair mumkin pahad (uncultivable hill), rocky and sandy land (bhood), rundh (enclosed piece of land between hills or grassland), rada (rocky land beyond the foothills), behed (ravines) and beed (jungle, not recorded as forest in government records) will be considered as part of the Aravallis.
If the meeting decides on a clear definition of what constitutes forests, there will be further clarity regarding the status of gair mumkin pahad, bhood etc. In addition, more areas in Gurgaon, Mewat, Faridabad, Rewari, Mahendragarh and Bhiwani districts of Haryana will be identified as falling under Aravallis in NCR.
Many of these areas were left out of the definition of NCZ (natural conservation zone) in March as the Haryana government had stated in a report that it is conducting a survey on the basis of revenue records to decide which areas fall under NCZs
In areas defined as NCZ, construction is not permitted beyond a limit of 0.5%, according to the National Capital Regional Plan 2021 (RP-21).
An NCRPB official said that Tuesday’s meeting and discussions are taking place with a view to protect the Aravallis. “We are aware that at present 62,000 hectares in Haryana have been identified as NCZ, while another 12,800 hectares have been put under the ‘yet to be decided as NCZ’ category.”
In the October meeting, the NCRPB had said that the Aravalli areas are clearly specified in the Aravalli Notification of May 7, 2002, and added that “these specified areas” are to be included while “identifying/delineating Aravallis in the entire NCR”.
Environmentalists are of opinion that a decision widening the definition of ‘forests’ will change the face of the region. “At present, most of the land under the ‘yet to be decided as NCZ’ category will come under confirmed NCZ, which will protect the area from being encroached upon,” said Vivek Kamboj, an environmental activist.