Plan to control urbanisation in Sultanpur park

Eight years after the ministry of environment and forests declared a 5-km zone around the Sultanpur National Park ecologically sensitive, the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority has said it will prepare a Zonal Master Plan to regulate development activities in the biodiversity-rich area.

gurgaon Updated: Sep 11, 2018 04:51 IST
Prayag Arora-Desai
Prayag Arora-Desai
Hindustan Times, Gurugram
urbanisation,ministry of environment and forests,Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority
The Sultanpur National Park is a hot spot for birdwatchers in the National Capital Region, but in recent years it has come under pressure from urban expansion, causing degradation of the local ecology. (HT File Photo)

Eight years after the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) declared a 5-km zone around the Sultanpur National Park ecologically sensitive, the Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has said it will prepare a Zonal Master Plan to regulate development activities in the biodiversity-rich area.

The Zonal Master Plan will demarcate all existing and proposed urban settlements in the area, as well as draw distinctions between forests, agricultural land, water bodies, orchards, fertile spaces and others to provide a comprehensive picture of land use.

The Sultanpur National Park is a hot spot for birdwatchers in the National Capital Region, but in recent years it has come under pressure from urban expansion, causing degradation of the local ecology.

The park receives as many as 250 species of migratory birds during the winters, including saras cranes, black necked storks and bar-headed geese, among others. “It is necessary to conserve the area up to five kilometers from the boundary of the Sultanpur National Park as an eco-sensitive zone, from ecological and environmental point of view,” the MoEF had observed in 2010.

The Zonal Master Plan, which is legally mandated as per instructions from the MoEF, was supposed to be drafted by January 2011, but has been held up due to administrative snags.

In an August 27 order, the GMDA has said the plan will be drafted within two months and sent for approval to the state government first, and then the MoEF which had declared eco-sensitive zone in January 2010.

According to the MoEF, the Zonal Master Plan will not allow for any change of land use from green to non green uses. Only conversions of agricultural land to accommodate needs of existing residents will be allowed, besides improving road and public utility infrastructure. However, these will require prior permission from the state government.

Until the Zonal Master Plan is prepared, all pending applications for change of land use within the 5km eco-sensitive zone will be returned to the applicants, along with permission letters and amounts paid.

Additional CEO of the GMDA, MD Sinha , said, “We have noticed some land use violations in the region, and without such a plan we are finding it hard to issue new permissions for change of land use. There are many gradations to the law is this context, and the Zonal Master Plan will help us and the public adhere to it.”

Pankaj Gupta, a conservationist and member of the Delhi Bird Foundation, however, raised caution.

“What worries me is that the Zonal Master Plan should have been readied years ago, and in the interim period many land violations have been allowed, which might be given formal status in the upcoming draft of the plan. The Zonal Master Plan should ideally not tolerate these violations,” he said.

First Published: Sep 11, 2018 04:51 IST