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Tuesday, Sep 17, 2019

Gurugram civic body may shift Sufi Nights out of biodiversity park

The amphitheatre was built in 2010 by the MCG, in consultation with an NGO called IAmGurgaon, which played an instrumental role in restoring the Biodiversity Park from an erstwhile stone quarry to its current biodiversity-rich status.

gurgaon Updated: Mar 11, 2019 04:41 IST
Prayag Arora-Desai
Prayag Arora-Desai
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) is contemplating changing the venue for its upcoming Sufi Nights festival after environmentalists highlighted that the amphitheatre inside Aravalli Biodiversity Park
The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) is contemplating changing the venue for its upcoming Sufi Nights festival after environmentalists highlighted that the amphitheatre inside Aravalli Biodiversity Park(HT File Photo)
         

The Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) is contemplating changing the venue for its upcoming Sufi Nights festival after environmentalists highlighted that the amphitheatre inside Aravalli Biodiversity Park, where the cultural event was originally scheduled to be held from March 15 to March 17, would be in violation of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, and the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.

The development comes a day after MCG joint commissioner for Zone 3 Hari Om Attri met environmentalists from NGO Haryali Welfare Society, on Saturday, to hear their objections.

Last week, the organization had written to civic chief Yashpal Yadav pointing out the laws which would be violated if the event was held. The letter was written six months after the issue was first flagged in November last year when protests erupted against the proposal to build a six-lane highway through the park as part of the Gurugram-Manesar connectivity project.

“If the highway is illegal, then so is the construction of an amphitheatre inside the park. The Aravalli notification of 1992, Forest Conservation Act and Wildlife Protection Act prevent any non-forestry activities, especially construction, within areas that are recognized to be deemed forests, as is the case with the biodiversity park,” Vaishali Rana Chandra, one of environmentalist who met with officials from the wildlife department and MCG, on Saturday, said.

In their letters to the MCG, Chandra and three other city-based activists said that the amphitheatre and events organised therein are “a blatant violation of Forest Conservation Act, 1980… the strong floodlights/lights, loud noises, generator sets, and so much of human activity organised in the night is jeopardizing the sensitive ecosystem of the Biodiversity Park and its wild and avian life.”

Attri said, “We have taken note of the objections and they seem to be legitimate. I have asked the forest department and wildlife department to corroborate the alleged violations before we shift the event to another venue.”

A wildlife inspector, who also met the activists on Saturday, said on the condition of anonymity, “We have noted the exact violations with respect to the Wildlife Protection Act will report the same officially to the MCG.”

The amphitheatre was built in 2010 by the MCG, in consultation with an NGO called IAmGurgaon, which played an instrumental role in restoring the Biodiversity Park from an erstwhile stone quarry to its current biodiversity-rich status.

Latika Thukral, founder of IAmGurgaon, said that the Rs 94-lakh amphitheatre was imagined as a cultural and social space when the idea for the park was originally conceived. The amphitheatre occasionally hosts musical events, such as Sufi Nights and the annual Gurgaon Utsav.

Thukral clarified that weak environmental law on part of the MCG had allowed the theatre to come up, but added, “We have protected the park from attempts at making it a tourist hotspot and have its best interest in mind.”

First Published: Mar 11, 2019 04:41 IST