Gurgaon: Planning body to debate status of land in the Aravallis today

Haryana has kept large portions of the Aravalli Hills outside the National Conservation Zone

gurgaon Updated: Dec 03, 2017 23:49 IST
Ipsita Pati
Ipsita Pati
Hindustan Times
NCRPB,Aravalli hills,Gurgaon
According to the National Capital Regional Plan 2021, in areas coming under the National Conservation Zone, construction is limited to only 0.5% of the total land.(Parveen Kumar/HT FILE)

The NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) will on Monday discuss and assess Haryana’s progress with regard to coming up with a clear definition of ‘forest’ in the Aravallis.

Earlier, in October, the board had written a letter to the state government asking it to expedite the process of demarcation of natural conservation zone (NCZ) and provide more clarity on the definition of ‘forest’ in the Aravallis. In December, the state took a decision to expand the area under the Aravalli notification of 1992 to the entire National Capital Region (NCR). The report of the state government on the definition of ‘forest’ has been pending ever since.

In its forthcoming meeting, the board will evaluate the progress and decide on the forest cover in the area as part of the agenda listed for the meeting. Once the government provide more clarity on the NCZ, the fate of a large chunk of land (in the Aravallis) could be decided, the experts said.

As per of the agenda for the NCRPB meeting on Monday, the state government has to produce a status report on both NCZ and forest with the board.

According to the National Capital Regional Plan 2021, in areas coming under the National Conservation Zone, construction is limited to only 0.5% of the total land.

The state has less than 3.7 % forest cover, mostly in the Aravallis. The state diluted the zoning restrictions on construction in the NCZ during the planning committee meetings in 2013. However, it was restored on April 25, 2014 in a special meeting of the NCRPB following the intervention of the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) and the Prime Minister’s Office PMO.

In October 2015, the state government had proposed a post-facto approval for all licences issued in NCZ areas between 2005 and 2014. Although there has been no construction activity in the area since, the NCRPB, in a meeting, said that state government doesn’t know what ‘deemed forest’ is.

Currently, Haryana has kept large areas of Aravalli hills outside NCZ, in a ‘status to be decided/confirmed’ category. It has to take a call on putting these areas in the ‘confirmed NCZ’ category.

“Over 11,000 acres of land in Gurgaon and Faridabad are in the ‘yet to be decided’ category. In Gurgaon district alone, 10,000 acres has been left out of the NCZ as the government is yet to take a call on the status of the land,” Vivek Kamboj, a city-based environmentalist, said.

Experts claimed that the state government is trying to dilute the forest cover as on 15 June 2017, the Haryana government wrote to the NCRPB claiming that parts of the Aravallis are only confined to the Gurgaon district and doesn’t extend beyond. Some clarity in the matter is expected to emerge in the forthcoming meeting of the NCRPB.

Read I Gurgaon: Filling of water pits in parched Aravalli forest underway

“The Aravalli forests serve as habitat for the wildlife in an area, which has seen rapid urbanisation, and play an important role in groundwater recharge, moderating desertification in the area and mitigating air pollution. Delhi and Rajasthan had incorporated the majority of the Aravallis as notified forests and sanctuaries. Currently Haryana has no sanctuary in the Aravallis, and hardly any reserved or protected forests. It’s high time the Haryana government came up with a plan to protect the Aravallis and reverse the privatisation and licencing of real estate across Aravalli hills in Gurgaon and Faridabad areas,” Chetan Agarwal, an environment analyst, said.

First Published: Dec 03, 2017 23:49 IST