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Two lakh people living near Aravallis may get legitimacy

Two lakh people living near Aravallis may get legitimacy
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Gurugram: Either in form of encroachment or weak laws, a population of more than two lakh people already reside in the Aravallis of Gurugram and Faridabad that was earlier protected in the Punjab land and Preservation Act (PLPA). Believed to be residing illegally there is a possibility that they will now be deemed legal as per law. Not only this around 9000 hectares of Aravalli land in Gurugram that has been placed in the category of industrial land will soon be taken for infrastructural purposes.

Protesting vehemently on the new law the environmentalists claim that at a time when Gurugram is struggling to get rid of present inventories the government is selling the prime real estate to builders. According to sources, the Haryana government had recently given a licence of Rs 330 crores to a developer in the land of Aravallis. The project was however withheld by the courts as the project was falling under the PLPA. Now there is a possibility that with the amendment of the law the licence to develop the land by destroying the

forest area which has survived for years.

There is also that the 350-acre luxury housing project of Kant enclave that had come up in the forest area of Aravallis and was struck down by Supreme Court last year may again be legal. Set up in 1992 there were 33 families who had purchased plots from the builder.

According to official sources, 6,172 acres of the land comes under gair mumkin pahadi ( reserve land of no utility). Over 150 acres of this has either been encroached upon by the builders who have made illegal colonies, people who have to build the farmhouses and the villagers who have used this land as gram panchayats. It is estimated that over 50 farmhouses have come up in the Gurugram, side of Aravallis. Owing to the lack of proper definition various public departments of Gurugram are embroiled in a host of litigation cases. The Gurugram Forest Division is involved in over 30 cases over the Aravallis in the state.

The cases range from encroachments, forest act violations and changing of land use patterns in the area to favour building activities in the green belt area. The legal cases over Aravallis are being fought in the District courts of Gurugram, Punjab and Haryana High Court, National Green Tribunal and also in the Supreme Court.

Haryana has the dubious distinction of slipping from the second lowest to the state with the lowest forest cover in India in 2018. The state's forest cover is a mere 3.59%, mostly concentrated in the uncultivable hills of the Aravallis in the south and Shiwaliks in the northern parts. Aravalli forests act as green lungs for the National Capital Region, which has some of the most polluted cities in India. The Aravallis are also critical for recharging our groundwater which is depleting at the rate of 5 feet per year in Gurgaon alone. The natural ecosystem of the Aravallis being home to the last remaining forests in south Haryana are our shield against desertification and a biodiversity hotspot in the National Capital Region (NCR). There are an estimated 400 species of native trees, shrubs and herbs. There are eight types of forest eco and systems uniquely adapted to the dry conditions, 200 native & migratory bird species and wildlife such as leopards, hyenas, jackals, neelgais, mongoose, civet cats as well as reptiles and insects.

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