Gurugram activists organise mock funeral to highlight threats to AravallisUpdated: Jan 19, 2020 23:52 IST
At 11am on Sunday, a group of 80 to 100 residents and environmentalists from the city gathered outside the Sikandarpur Metro station to conduct the funeral rites, a symbolic ‘janaza’, of a mock corpse of the Aravallis. Participants who spoke to Hindustan Times said the act was a protest against the Haryana government’s failure to protect the ecologically sensitive mountain range, which has been subject to degradation at the hands of miners and the real estate over the past few decades.
The group also conducted a 30-minute long ‘shok sabha’, or condolence meet, where concerns over the future of the Aravallis were raised by multiple environmentalists and citizens. They took turns to pay their respects to the metaphorical corpse (a dead plant) by garlanding it with flowers, laying it out on a wooden stretcher and then conducting a funeral march from Sikandarpur to the MG Road Metro station. Along the way, activists raised slogans calling for the protection of the Aravallis, displayed placards bearing similar messages, and also engaged with curious onlookers.
Sarika Verma, a Gurugram-based environmental campaigner and one of the organisers of the event, said, “The purpose is to highlight the mortal fate of the Aravalli ecosystem. The Haryana government seems adamant at enacting amendments to the Punjab Land Preservation Act into law. There has also been a 47% reduction in the proposed area for natural conservation zones, or NCZs, in Haryana. Together, this will mean that several thousands of acres of forest and green cover will become open to real estate.”
This, Verma added, would have adverse consequences for the region’s ecology, and in turn for human well-being. The Aravallis, as activists and experts have pointed out, are essential to groundwater recharge for Delhi, Gurugram and Faridabad, in addition to an important wildlife corridor between Asola in Delhi and Sariska in Rajasthan. “They also act as a dust trap for airborne pollutants. Destruction of the Aravallis will cause air quality in Gurugram to deteriorate beyond the already existing hazardous levels,” Neelam Ahluwalia, another event organiser, said.
“If the Aravallis are to be protected, then it is important to educate people about what we are doing and why. We took Sunday’s gathering as an opportunity to give people a scientific and legal primer on the Aravallis, and what it will take to save them,” Vaishali Rana Chandra, a city-based environmentalist who was present at Sunday’s gathering, said. She added that with the Haryana Assembly convening for a three-day session from January 20, the cause of the Aravallis would also be highlighted therein.
Hindustan Times attempted to speak with Haryana’s newly appointed principal chief conservator of forests (PCCF) Amrinder Kaur but was unable to contact her despite multiple attempts. Subash Yadav, district forest officer, Gurugram, and Suresh Punia, district forest officer, Faridabad, meanwhile, did not respond to requests for comment on Sunday.