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Environmentalists hail SC stay order on amended PLPA Act

Environmentalists hail SC stay order on amended PLPA Act
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Gurugram: Hundreds of environmentalists who had been protesting against Haryana government's move to amend the 119-year-old Punjab Land and Preservation Act (PLPA) hailed the Supreme Court's stay order on forest area being used for development purposes. On February 24, a protest march was organised to resent the move by the state government. It was stated in the protest march that they would challenge the order illegally if the Haryana government goes ahead and pass the bill. "In the name of development, the government is acquiring large tracts of Aravalli land. What it does not realise how detrimental the effect would be for the residents of Gurugram in the future. Lack of proper vision by the government prevents it to undertake the route of sustainable development," said Sarika Panda.

"The Supreme Court has once again come to the rescue of saving the Aravallis. For long the politicians in nexus with the builders have been plundering the green belt. This is not a new phenomenon and has been continuing from the '90s. Today most of the residential colonies have come up around the Aravallis because the government of every party were never interested in saving the Aravallis," said Rajiv Kapoor, a city resident.

On the pretext of land coming under the PLPA act, the apex court had cancelled several licences issued by the state government among which the most prominent was Kant Enclave. The luxury housing project was spread in the area of 350 acres in Aravalli forest and had more than 33 families residing in it. If the bill brought in by the Haryana government was allowed to go ahead over two lakh people that were earlier staying illegally in the protected areas of Aravllis would be legal. Further, over 30,000 acres of forest area ran the risk of being destroyed completely.

Out of 89,526 hectares of forest area in Haryana, 33 per cent of Aravallis comes under PLPA. Sharing the contents of the bill the activists claimed that the government has added provisions which would allow the strong builder lobby and other vested interests to ransack the forest area.

According to the environmentalist if the amended bill is passed then there will be a blanket exclusion of Aravallis around the urban areas. As most of the development of Gurugram and even Faridabad has taken on the land around the Aravallis, the forests that were protected for a long time would not be safe anymore claim activists. Moreover, it has been claimed that the bill will be passed with retrospective effect of 1966. Under this provision, all the acts of notifying the Aravallis land for protection will be nullified. It also limits the notification for protection of Aravallis forest for the period of 30 years. Because of this act, the protestors claimed that 10,400 acres of Aravallis in Faridabad and 17,000 hectares of Aravallis under the PLPA will be excluded.

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