Gurugram residents again unite to save Aravalli forests
Gurugram: In October last year hundreds of residents united to save the 153 hectares of Aravalli biodiversity park. The growing popularity of citizen activism to save the green area eventually led the government to withhold the project. In less than four months citizens again came on the streets to fight a much bigger battle. This time the fight was towards preventing the amendment of the Punjab land preservation act drafted in the year 1900 that puts 29682 acres of Aravallis forest area of being destroyed. It is important to note that the PLPA act extends the protections of Aravalli forest area on the community, Panchayati and Municipal lands.
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. "Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar played an active role in preserving the Mangar Bani forest by making it a no construction zone. However, he is now being misled on the issue of this amended act. The government may claim that they are trying to preserve the Aravallis instead of various provisions in this bill will result in the irreparable damage of Aravallis," said Chetan Aggarwal, the environmentalist.
"The process of developers trying to unsurp the prime areas of Aravallis has been continuing from the late '90s. We ourselves have been fighting the case of protection of the Aravallis in higher courts of the country," said RS Rathee, the Municipal Corporation of Gurugram (MCG) councillor and member of Aam Aadmi Party.
At three per cent Haryana has the lowest forest cover in the country. All of it is concentrated around Gurugram and Faridabad in form of Aravllis. Now the fears that the Haryana government is trying to move out a substantial portion of Faridabad Aravallis in Gurugram and Faridabad at the earliest.
This would mean that the land can be used for the construction of roads and can be sold to realtors