The Aravallis have been a prized land mark in Gurgaon: It is the lungs for the world’s most polluted city and a cool landscape running through the sultry plains of Rajasthan, Haryana and Delhi.
Anyone stuck in the city would want a piece of the hills as his own, build a farmhouse, live with nature.
However, the Aravallis are a ‘no-go’ zone and the few who have tried to trespass have had to face protests from environmental activist putting an end to their ‘dream house’.
It is not for nothing then, that the Haryana government is going all guns blazing to get the ‘forest’ tag removed from the Aravallis. It is at loggerheads with the environment ministry over criteria to identify forests.
However, the state’s recent moves show that it is in a hurry to get its sub-regional plan passed, which will pave way for construction in the Aravallis.
Just a week before the election results, which is most-likely to go against the UPA, Congress ruled state wants to get the plan through.
Recently, the state moved the Supreme Court, contesting its own forest department’s records which identify the land as ‘forests’. And on April 29, it gave additional charge of forest to YS Malik, who is also Additional Chief Secretary, Mines.
It has also been pushing the NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) for allowing more than 0.5% construction in natural conservation zones of the state’s regional plan for NCR.
A special meeting, despite the election code of conduct, was held, which would have confirmed the deal if not for the objections raised by the Prime Minister’s Office.
Haryana has also not identified forest areas yet despite Supreme Court orders in 1996, 1997 and 2011. Moreover, the Master Plans in South Haryana seem to anticipate that the apex court orders that treat Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) and Aravalli areas as forests will be modified.
“It is pertinent to mention that though the area notified under section 4 and/or 5 of PLPA and areas under Aravalli Plantation are not forest per se, but the same have been considered as forest in terms of the orders of Hon’ble Supreme Court of India till the same are modified”, states the Gurgaon Manesar Urban Complex master plan-2031 as well as the Sohna Final Development Plan 2031.
Recently, Haryana also applied to the NCRPB to exclude 350 acres Wazirabad area and 37 acres near Sector 75/76 in Gurgaon from natural conservation zone. Both the land areas have been assigned to DLF and Suzuki motorcycles respectively for different projects.