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Fate of technology park on Aravalli hangs in balance

After private developers’ projects, uncertainty now looms large over the Rs 1,800 crore European Technology Park (ETP). Sanjeev K Ahuja reports.

india Updated: Mar 30, 2009 00:36 IST

After private developers’ projects, uncertainty now looms large over the Rs 1,800 crore European Technology Park (ETP). The park was planned jointly by the Haryana Government and a Dutch business consortium at 500 acres of land in Mangar village on the foothills of Aravalli Hills, in Faridabad. The development comes in the backdrop of the ongoing row over construction on the ecologically-fragile hills.

The forest department has said the project not only fell under the prohibited 5-km limits of the Delhi ridge area, a major portion of it also came under forest areas and, therefore, permission should not be granted to such projects.

Wary about the future of the project, the Dutch Haryana Business Consortium (DHBC) that had entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Haryana State Industrial & Infrastructure Development Corporation (HSIIDC) on behalf of the Haryana government two years ago has sought clarity from the state government on the possibility of going ahead with the project.

“We would be left with no other option but to withdraw the project and take it somewhere else if we are asked to go to the Supreme Court-appointed Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) to seek permission at this stage,” Harish Mehta, the director (Indian Affairs) of DHBC, told Hindustan Times.

Besides academic, sports and entertainment, commercial and facility zones, the proposed ETP would have 159 acres of residential zone with housing based on European architectural features for the people moving to India from European countries.

A senior Haryana Forest Department official said the forest department has already clarified its stand on the ETP project and stated that the project came under the prohibited 5-km range of Delhi Ridge where the Supreme Court had barred any construction activity in its order dated May 14, 2008. He said the recommendation was made on the basis of the topography sheet of Survey of India.

“And also about 125 acres (52 hectares) of the ETP comes under forest zone on Aravalli Hills where any activity other than forestation is already banned. Now it’s up to the Haryana Government to decide whether the project should go ahead or not,” the forest official said requesting anonymity.

Mehta said that following the ongoing row over construction activities on Aravalli Hills in Faridabad and Gurgaon, it was not feasible to go ahead with the ETP project. He said, “Though the state government, through Haryana Investment Promotion Board, had approved the project in June 2007, but now we have again sought reconfirmation from the state government on the legality of the project. Earlier this month, we wrote to the HSIIDC to clarify on the project’s future. At this stage if we are asked to go back to CEC and get approval, we would not do it and prefer to withdraw the project from the existing location and take it elsewhere.”

When contacted Rajiv Arora, the managing director of HSIIDC, said only a portion of the 500 acres of land on which the ETP was to come up came under forest zone.

“Ideally there should be no problem with the project but we would soon come out with some clarity on it. I cannot say anything more at this point,” he said.

First Published: Mar 30, 2009 00:35 IST