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Change in land preservation law leaves Aravallis in peril

The Haryana assembly on Wednesday passed an amendment to the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900, opening thousands of acres in the Aravallis and Shivalik ranges for real estate development and mining, which could be a major threat to the environment and ecology in Delhi-NCR.

chandigarh Updated: Feb 28, 2019 05:23 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Chandigarh
The amended law will exclude tracts of land included in the final development plans or town improvement plans from the ambit of the PLPA. (File Photo)

The Haryana assembly on Wednesday passed an amendment to the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900 (PLPA), opening thousands of acres of land under the Aravallis and Shivalik ranges for real estate development and mining, which could be a major threat to the environment and ecology in Delhi-NCR.

The amended law will exclude tracts of land included in the final development plans or town improvement plans from the ambit of the PLPA. The amendment will be applicable with retrospective as well prospective effect. The amended law will also grant legitimacy to Kant Enclave in Faridabad, which was built on PLPA notified land and was ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court.

The apex court had then said, “Kant Enclave is a forest or is a forest land or is required to be treated as a forest or forest land and absolutely no construction activity could have been permitted on it with effect from August 18, 1992. Any and all construction activity in Kant Enclave since that date is illegal and impermissible in law.”

The amendment was passed amid uproar in the House with the opposition Congress and Indian National Lok Dal demanding that the bill be sent to an assembly committee for re-examination. However, finance minister Capt Abhimanyu said the Congress MLAs were levelling false and baseless allegations against the government.

“Can you specify the provision in the amendment bill to which you are objecting to? I would like to know which provisions of the bill will affect the biodiversity and reduce the forest cover,” the finance minister asked.

Haryana chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar said the PLPA was framed in 1900 and needed modifications in view of the changed situations. As soon as the amendment bill was introduced by the forests minister Rao Narbir Singh in the House, INLD MLA Parminder Dhull questioned the intention of the state government.

“What is the hidden agenda behind bringing this amendment bill. And why is this law being amended from retrospective affect? This is quite bizarre. It is a sure way to destroy the Aravallis,’’ Dhull said. The MLA said the Supreme Court orders barred de-notification of forest areas.

The chief minister, however, assured the House that there was no wrong intention behind the amendment bill.

“And if one believes there is any wrong intent, then one can challenge it in a court of law,’’ Khattar said.

First Published: Feb 28, 2019 02:05 IST