Gurgaon: Housing project not on forest land: State tells green panel
The state government had granted permission to a realty firm to chop Mesquite trees in the Aravallis to free up space for a group housing project over 52 acresUpdated: Jul 05, 2017 23:32 IST
The Haryana government on Wednesday responded to a notice issued by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with regard to a group housing project over 52 acres in the Aravallis, claiming that the land earmarked for the project is not ‘forest’ according to the revenue department records.
The government said since the land in question falls outside the ambit of the protected area where strict restrictions on construction activities and tree felling are in place, the approval for chopping Mexican mesquite trees, known locally as ‘vilayati kikar’ in the area, cannot qualify as degradation of the Aravallis.
The response from the government came during the hearing of a petition filed by SS Oberoi, an environmentalist who alleged that the government had sanctioned a real estate project in the eco-sensitive area of Aravallis, leading to axing of more than 10,000 trees at Sarai Khwaja village of Faridabad district.
The next hearing in the case has been scheduled on Thursday. The NGT will weigh the arguments put forward by the petitioner and the state before arriving at a judgment in the matter. The petitioner claimed that the state government tried to twist the norms for the benefit of the reality firm, as it directed the forest department to grant necessary approval for the felling of mesquite trees to the firm — Bharti Land Ltd.
The firm representatives claimed they followed all norms before being granted permission by the forest department to cut trees in the Aravallis.
Environmentalists said that the green panel should take into consideration the report of Forest Survey of India (FSI) before deciding on the status of the land.
“The state government and the real estate firm are trying to change the face of Aravallis. The mesquite trees, which dot the Aravallis, has now been declared as a pest as it restricts regeneration of indigenous tree species of Aravalli Ridge,” Jintender Bhadana, an environment activist, said.
Ameena Serwani, another green campaigner, said, “The area where the housing project is coming up is in the Aravallis and there should not be any doubts about it. The onus is now on the NGT to save the forest area from turning into a concrete jungle.”
The petitioner also pointed out that the area falls within the natural conservation zone (NCZ) under the Regional Plan 2021 and restrictions on the extent of construction (0.5% of area) and purpose of construction (regional recreational activities only) are in place. He said the rules specify that any construction should be minimal and subservient to conservation.