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Aravallis to get 9 new checkpoints

This development comes just two days after the departments received a complaint of large-scale tree felling on the protected Aravalli land in Kot and Bandhwari villages, lying in the buffer zone of Mangar Bani, Delhi-NCR’s only remaining sacred grove.

gurgaon Updated: May 28, 2019 07:44 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Gurugram
aravallis,checkpoint,gurugram
The forest departments of Faridabad and Gurugram will together establish nine new security outposts for the protection of the Aravalli forests by August, department officials have confirmed.

The forest departments of Faridabad and Gurugram will together establish nine new security outposts for the protection of the Aravalli forests by August, department officials have confirmed.

This development comes just two days after the departments received a complaint of large-scale tree felling on the protected Aravalli land in Kot and Bandhwari villages, lying in the buffer zone of Mangar Bani, Delhi-NCR’s only remaining sacred grove.

Suresh Punia, district forest officer, Faridabad, said, “We have requested the head office in Panchkula to approve our budget for the same. After approval and some basic groundwork, the barricades (nakas) will be put into service by August for the increased protection of the Aravallis, which need to be kept out of the grasp of the timber mafia, illegal constructions and so on.” Punia, however, declined to specify the amount of the budget, and the specific locations of the outposts. However, he said they would provide adequate vigilance over an area of about 180 square kilometres between Asola, Surajkund, Mangar, Pali, Badkal and Damdama Lake in Gurugram.

Once active, these new security outposts will take the total number of such outposts (in Gurugram and Faridabad) to at least 15. Presently there are only six outposts, according to a Right to Information(RTI) response received by local activist Vaishali Rana Chandra in March.

Activists and locals residing in close proximity to the Aravallis have criticised the state forest department for cutting back on this important security feature.

According to a proposal, dated September 8, 2016, the department planned to establish a total of 52 security outposts for the protection of nearly 1 lakh hectares of Aravalli land at a budget of Rs 238 lakh. The proposal included reviving eight outposts in Faridabad, 11 in Gurugram, five in Nuh, 10 in Mahendragarh and eight in the Rewari district.

“These areas are the last vestiges of natural biodiversity extant in the region and a valuable gene-pool resource for the future that needs to be protected at all costs,” stated the proposal. It also stated, “The entire area is characterised by intense biotic pressures and increasing urbanisation. There is illegal mining, cutting of trees, construction of boundary walls and farmhouses which, if unchecked, will destroy the rich biodiversity of the area and have a highly negative impact on its hydrology.”

The proposal also took into account the presence of wildlife, particularly leopards and hyenas in these districts, and recommended that an “Aravalli protection force” be formed.In January last year, state forest minister Rao Narbir Singh had said that the task force would come into action “within 10 days”. “Whatever form of the task force was eventually deployed, seems to have completely fizzled out by now,” said Chandra.

Locals have welcomed the forest department’s move to expand its security capabilities. Sunil Harsana, a conservationist from Mangar village said, “At least seven check posts active in Mangar, Bandhwari, Damdama and surrounding areas till June 2017 were suddenly shut down after an administrative reshuffling. We immediately saw an increase in the cases of tree felling. Reviving these outposts is imperative to protecting these forests.”

First Published: May 28, 2019 02:59 IST