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Gurgaon: NGT sends notice to Haryana govt over realty project

The NGT notice came in response to a petition demanding a ban on realty projects in the Aravalli forest area

gurgaon Updated: Jun 21, 2017 14:41 IST
Ipsita Pati
Ipsita Pati
Hindustan Times
Aravalli hills,Bharti Land LTD,NGT
There are restrictions in place with regard to tree felling and construction activities in the Aravallis.(File Photo)

The National Green Tribunal on Monday issued notices to Haryana government, forest department, NCR planning board, and Bharti Land Ltd for destroying environmentally sensitive areas in the Aravallis for a 52-acre housing project.

This came as the tribunal was hearing a petition filed by Lt. Col. (retd) Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi, demanding to keep the realty projects out of the Aravalli gair mumkin pahar area, which is deemed forest area.

The issue surfaced last month, as environmentalists questioned the approval of tree felling at Sarai Khwaja village of Faridabad district, in the Aravalli region, for the housing project. HT, in a report, pointed out that if the permission was granted for one project, more than 50,000 acres in the Aravallis, which are under ‘yet to be decided’ category, will be at risk.

The petition stated that even as permission was sought for the purpose of developing a Group Housing Society, the firm only sought permission for felling of an estimated 1,000 trees of mesquite species. The area has at least 5 to 10 times more trees of a variety of species.

The plea also pointed out 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 felling of mesquite trees to the Bharti Land Ltd.

A letter issued in April by former additional chief secretary (forest) of Haryana to the principal chief conservator of forest states that the “land of Ms Bharti Land is not protected, reserved or unclassed forests” and is not notified under section 4 and/or 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900.

“Since this area does not constitute forest component of the NCZ as per the decision taken by the NCR Planning Board on 20.12.2016, you are directed to accord necessary approval for felling of mesquite trees to the applicant as per the provisions of the PLPA, 1900, with intimation to the government,” the letter said.

However, green activists pointed out that as the area is under natural conservation zone (NCZ) under the Regional Plan 2021, restrictions are in place on the extent of construction (0.5% of area) and purpose of construction (regional recreational activities only) so as to conserve the environmentally sensitive areas and ensure that construction is minimal.

Read I Gurgaon: Axe falls on more than 70 trees in Aravali hills

“This is a complete violation of the directions of the Supreme Court, which had directed states to identify the areas which can be classified as forests,” Oberoi said.

Another green activist, Chetan Agarwal, said, “The Aravalli hills are identified as recharge zones for the region by the Central Ground Water Board and efforts should be made to conserve the area.”

Last month, responding to a query on a similar issue, the realty firm confirmed to HT that the project was cleared by the state government.

“We have received all approvals regarding our project. The application for the felling of mesquite bushes has been applied as per the requirement and we are awaiting approval of the same,” a spokesperson of Bharti Realty, which is building the housing project, had told HT earlier. The representatives were not available for comments on Tuesday.

First Published: Jun 20, 2017 23:40 IST