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Never received proposal to divert forest land for housing project: Forest ministry

The NGT had asked MoEF&CC to file a reply as it was hearing a petition filed by Lt Col (retd) Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi demanding that builders be kept out of Aravalli gair mumkin pahar area, which is deemed forest.

gurgaon Updated: Aug 25, 2017 21:52 IST
Ipsita Pati
Ipsita Pati
Hindustan Times
forest land,Aravalli,NGT
The petition also stated that more than 10,000 trees were cleared from 52 acres of the Aravallis where a realty company is coming up with a housing project. (HT Photo)

The Ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEF&CC) in a reply to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday said it never received any proposal from the Haryana government for diversion of forest land for development of a group housing project. It also stated that the issue regarding the definition of forest was also resolved.

The NGT had asked MoEF&CC to file a reply as it was hearing a petition filed by Lt Col (retd) Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi demanding that builders be kept out of Aravalli gair mumkin pahar area, which is deemed forest. The petition also stated that more than 10,000 trees were cleared from 52 acres of the Aravallis where a realty company is coming up with a housing project.

“As per the records available in the office of answering respondent (MoEF), no proposal for diversion of forest land measuring 52.2991 acres under section 2 of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, in village Sarai Khajwa in district Faridabad, Haryana for the purpose of development of the group housing society or for any other non-forest project,” the MoEF&CC said.

The ministry also said the issue related to the “definition” of Aravalli and forest was adequately addressed. “…the NCZ has been clearly spelt out in the regional plan (RP)-2021. Component of NCZ include agriculture and horticulture, pisciculture, social forestry/plantations including afforestation and regional recreational activities with no construction exceeding 0.5% of the area with the permission of the competent authority.”

During the meetings last year, it was concluded that the ‘specified areas’ of the Aravallis are to be included while identifying the Aravalli land in the entire National Capital Region (NCR).

The ministry has also asked the state government to submit a clarification regarding the allegation by the petitioner.

Environmentalists pointed out that the state government has violated the Forest Conservation Act. “The state government has paved the way for the group housing project without referring the matter to the MoEF and the NCR planning board. This shows why Haryana raised issues regarding the NCZ and the Aravalli definition,” said Vivek Kamboj, a green activist.

Earlier this month, SK Gulati, additional chief secretary (ACS), Forest and Wildlife, said the area in question is “not forest” and the project has got the approval from the town and country department.

“The forest department never planted any trees on the 52 acre land. The land is not marked as forest,” Gulati had said.

First Published: Aug 25, 2017 21:52 IST