Citizens protest against law that threatens Aravallis
At least 300 citizens from Gurugram and Faridabad gathered at the Khushboo Chowk intersection on the Gurgaon-Faridabad Road on Sunday morning, denouncing the Haryana government’s proposed amendment of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA).
The amendment, which has reportedly received approval from the state Cabinet, is expected to be passed by the legislative assembly this week during the ongoing budget session. The amendments will remove legal protection for about 60,000 acres of ecologically sensitive Aravalli land in south Haryana.
This is about half the region’s total cover.
In Gurugram and Faridabad, the amendment would open up about 26,000 acres of Aravalli land for real estate development. Experts say this will severely threaten water security in the National Capital Region (NCR), increase desertification from Rajasthan, and exacerbate air pollution.
Also at threat are 400 types of native trees, herbs and shrubs, eight unique types of forest ecosystems, over 200 species of native and migratory bird, animals such as leopards , hyenas, civet cats, nilgai and mongoose, and several varieties of reptiles and insects.
Residents, conservationists, environmental activists, and students formed a human chain on Sunday and marched from Khushboo Chowk to the Guru Dronacharya Metro station and back. A second protest is scheduled next Sunday in Faridabad.
Environment analyst Chetan Agarwal laid out the implications of the proposed amendment to the PLPA, a colonial-era law which was implemented in undivided Punjab in 1900, and continues to be the highest form of legal protection accorded to a substantial portion of the Aravallis.
“The amendment is effectively a repeal of the Act, as it seeks blanket provisions that exclude the PLPA from applying to urban areas. It subverts the Supreme Court’s 2018 observation that all PLPA lands are to be considered and protected as forests, under provisions of the Forest Act, 1980. In September last year, the court ordered the demolition of Kant Enclave built on PLPA land.
“Diluting PLPA will only help the real estate lobby and the state town and country planning department(DTCP), which will profit from granting land licenses,” said a senior official in the district administration, who did not wished to be named. The amendment is being opposed by some members of the Congress and Jannayak Janata Party.