The Centre has asked the Haryana government to protect the Aravalli foothills as they are natural groundwater recharge zones.
The ministry of water resources has urged the state to notify the ‘bhood’ areas— where water from the hills collect — as ecologically sensitive spots so that the groundwater level is maintained during the non-monsoon period as well.
In a recent letter sent by the secretary of ministry of water resources Shashi Shekhar to the state government, it is stated that bhood areas cannot be converted into construction sites.
“….the foothills of Aravalli in the ‘bhood’ land is a natural groundwater recharge area…. These natural recharge zones must be protected at all cost otherwise there will be serious water crisis in future,” the letter stated.
The letter further stated, “If the bhood areas are destroyed by allowing real-estate, it will pose serious threat to water availability during the non-monsoon period.”
The Central government also appealed to the state government to declare ‘bhood’ areas as “water sensitive zones” and said that they should be notified under the Environmental Protection Act for conservation. The groundwater table in the region has been depleting at an alarming rate – 14.16 metres between 2005 and 2014.
The Central Groundwater Board categorised Gurgaon as ‘over exploited’, following which the Punjab and Haryana high court banned groundwater extraction in the district. Haryana has less than 4% forest area. In the state, the forest area is divided into three categories— gair mumkin pahad, foothills and bhood.
According to the forest department, ‘gair mumkin pahad’ is a revenue category first used by Persians for areas unfit for habitation and cultivation. Foothills are regions that are part of the hills and thus belong to the forest area.
The ‘bhood’ grasslands of Haryana play a vast ecological role. They act as water conservation zones, the department said.