National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) that prepared the regional plan 2021 was apparently aware of the discrepancy in area under forest cover in the NCR. This was revealed in a letter from the chief regional planner to the NRSC in April last year, a copy of which is available with HT.
According to the Forest Survey of India (FSI) and National Remote Sensing Centre (NRSC), a comparison of forest cover and green area in NCR shows massive discrepancies resulting in nearly 2.4 lakh acres of forest missing from the revised NCR plan.
The discrepancy has been explained as a definitional issue in the final plan. The inconsistency is because both the government agencies use different definitions of forest cover and green area.
However, environmentalists claim that the explanation is incorrect as the NCRPB’s definition of green cover is much wider and yet the assessment of area under green cover is lower than FSI’s estimates by over 2.4 lakh acres.
At the same time the states have not completed the exercise to identify the forest as per the Godavarman and Lafarge judgments of the Supreme Court. Meanwhile, the Ministry of Environment & Forests (MoEF) has asked the NCRPB not to finalise the plan, till the exercise to identify forests is completed.
Environmental analyst, Chetan Agarwal, said “It would be disastrous to allow any dilution in the Natural Conservation Zones as it will leads to construction in the environmentally sensitive areas of the Aravallis, river beds and water bodies.”
“When Rajasthan and Delhi have put substantial portions of the Aravalli areas under sanctuaries, and reserved forests, Haryana is flirting with ecological disaster of the NCR and hasn’t protected any Aravalli Natural Conservation Zone areas,” said Vivek Kamboj, an environmentalist.