Aravalis vul­ner­a­ble to plun­der?

If the re­gional plan 2021 al­low­ing tourism in the Aravalis is ap­proved, it will de­stroy Delhi NCR’s ‘green lungs’ TO­TAL LAND AREA UN­DER FOR­EST COVER INI­TIA­TIVES TAKEN BY DIF­FER­ENT STATES

HT Estates - - FRONT PAGE - Van­dana Ram­nani

It’s a doc­u­ment that might as well ring the death knell for the eco­log­i­cally sen­si­tive Aravalis, open­ing up the moun­tain range to un­con­trolled, un­planned de­vel­op­ment and de­stroy­ing for­est ar­eas that are es­sen­tially the green lungs of the Cap­i­tal. Ap­proval of the re­vised re­gional plan 2021 by state gov­ern­ment rep­re­sen­ta­tives of the na­tional cap­i­tal re­gion will, in ev­ery sense of the word, ‘di­lute’ the en­vi­ron­men­tal safe­guards put in place in 2005 in the re­gional plan 2021 to pro­tect the Aravali belt.

At the time of go­ing to press, the prime min­is­ter’s of­fice had asked the union ur­ban de­vel­op­ment min­istry not to ap­prove Haryana’s sub-re­gional plan that al­lows con­struc­tion be­yond 0.5% in con­ser­va­tion ar­eas and tourism ac­tiv­i­ties in these sen­si­tive zones. Also, with the poll dates an­nounced, the Na­tional Cap­i­tal Re­gion Plan­ning Board ( NCRPB) has post­poned the meet­ing to ap­prove the plan.

It will, there­fore, not be wrong to say that the draft re­vised re­gional plan 2021 down­plays the eco­log­i­cal im­por­tance of the re­gion where forests and sa­cred groves such as Man­gar Bani act as wildlife cor­ri­dors be­tween t he Asola Bhatti Sanc­tu­ary and the Sariska Na­tional Park in Ra­jasthan and as the lungs of the NCR.

En­vi­ron­men­tal­ists have al­leged that the re­vi­sion of the re­gional plan is be­ing done to open up the pro­tected ar­eas to coloni­sa­tion by pri­vate de­vel­op­ers and reg­u­larise the vi­o­la­tions as per the present plan. It might not be long be­fore sev­eral pri­vate de­vel­op­ers, some of whom have re­port­edly bought huge land parcels in the area, start con­struc­tion of sprawl­ing ‘vil­las fac­ing golf cour­ses’ as ‘tourism’ or ‘recre­ational’ ac­tiv­i­ties,they warn.

For the unini­ti­ated, a re­gional plan is meant to pre­vent any hap- haz­ard de­vel­op­ment in the NCR. En­vi­ron­ment an­a­lysts say that the re­vi­sions sug­gested in the plan will use tourism as a pre­text to al­low ram­pant res­i­den­tial and com­mer­cial con­struc- tion in the Aravalis.

Also, as pop­u­la­tion of NCR in­creases, the per capita for­est cover needs to be main­tained. The for­est area needs to dou­ble si­mul­ta­ne­ously be­cause of all 14.4% 11.9% Over the last 20 years, Delhi has taken sig­nif­i­cant steps to pre­serve the Aravali, Ridge area

Ra­jasthan has pro­tected Sariska as a tiger re­serve In Haryana, the in­ter­ven­ing Aravali area has no re­serve forests, sanc­tu­ar­ies or even con­ser­va­tion re­serves. The prob­lem here has been that part of the area has been sold to pri­vate colonis­ers

In Noida, patches of veg­e­ta­tion on vil­lage com­mon land should be iden­ti­fied, pro­tected and ex­panded the eco­log­i­cal ben­e­fits it of­fers. And that can hap­pen only if the for­est cover is re­served.

PARVEEN KU­MAR

The re­vised NCR re­gional plan pro­poses re­moval of the 0.5% re­stric­tion on con­struc­tion in the nat­u­ral con­ser­va­tion zone (NCZ)

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