Off Limits No More: Aravalis May Be Opened For Non-Forest Activities
Updated on February 20, 2017:
Five days after the ML Khattar-led state government of Haryana submitted a proposal to Ministry of Urban Development that restricts 0.5 per cent of the land in the Aravalis for 'recreational activities', Gurgaon-based green activists held a protest. They have threatened to move court against the state government to promote non-forest activities in ecologically sensitive Aravalis.
The state government had sought amendment in a provision in the NCR Planning Board (NCRPB)'s Regional Plan 2021.
Caught between the twin evils of reducing residential space and a rising migrant population, the state of Haryana is now mulling unlocking land along the environmentally sensitive Aravali range to pave way for future developments. However, the ML Khattar government will need an approval from the Centre before it can go ahead with its plans.
The Ministry of Environment and Forests' Regional Plan of NCR (national capital region) 2021 clearly states that natural conservation zones — this includes environmentally sensitive areas, including extension of the Aravali ridge, forest areas, the rivers and tributaries, sanctuaries, major lakes and water bodies — "should be well preserved and protected" and only "controlled and regulated development" in these areas should be allowed. Activities permitted in these zones include agriculture & horticulture, pisciculture, social forestry, and most importantly, regional recreational activities, with no construction exceeding 0.5 per cent of the area.
Also read: Is There A Need To Redefine Forests?
However, the Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar-led government in Haryana considers this restriction redundant and has moved a proposal to amend the provision restricting real estate development in the ecologically sensitive Aravali range. The state argues that since a 1992 Aravali notification by the Central ministry now restricts non-forest activities across the entire range, there is no scope for "additional" restrictions. Earlier, the 1992 Aravali notification covered only in Gurgaon (Haryana) and Alwar (Rajasthan) districts; a high-level committee of the NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) later approved that it would now apply to the entire range.
If the state proposal is accepted by the Central ministry, Haryana will unlock more land for developing projects, including real estate.