Haryana govt moots opening up Aravallis for development

Environmentalists cry foul as they see it an attempt to encroach upon the ecologically fragile mountain region

The Aravallis are spread across Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat. Pic: Wikipedia

The Aravallis, possibly the oldest mountain range in the world, is under threat of systematic encroachment after a Haryana government panel wrongly concluded that revenue records only mention ‘Gair Mumkin Pahar (uncultivable hilly areas)’ and make no mention of ‘Aravalli’.

The Aravallis are spread across Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Gujarat.

The high-level state committee has given clear instructions to revenue officials asking them to use a 1992 notification of the Ministry of Environment to mark “uncultivable hilly areas”.  If the notification is used as a yardstick, then limited parts of Aravallis will be marked under National Conservation Zone (NCZ) and rest will come under revenue department, thus opening vast tracts of the mountain range for so-called development, The Indian Express reported.

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This media house learnt that some district administrations of Haryana recorded areas under ‘Gair Mumkin Pahar’ in revenue records as Aravalli.

The idea of National Conservation Zone (NCZ) was coined to keep a tab on construction activities in this ecologically sensitive area. Conservationists say that if the Haryana government plan sees through, NCZ norms would no longer be applicable to Aravalli range in Faridabad district.

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A member, however, said the committee has not reached a consensus in the matter yet.

It is feared that the Haryana government’s plan may open doors to extensive construction in the highly fragile Aravalli mountain range.

“If there are no Aravallis outside Gurgaon, were the orders of the Supreme Court for protection of Aravallis in 2002, 2004 and 2009 implemented in Faridabad by mistake?” said Chetan Agarwal, an environmentalist.

Currently, construction activity is permitted only in half per cent of an area (0.5 acre in a 100-acre area) in the Aravallis, but a major part of the mountain is taken out of NCZ, development activities will flourish in this highly-fragile region.

Former IFS officer R P Balwan told The Indian Express: “Revenue record pertains to cultivation of land and doesn’t mention physical features. When no cultivation took place in the Aravallis ever, how will it find mention in revenue records? How can they deny the existence of the highest hill of Aravallis, Doshi Hill (Mahendragarh), on the basis of such a record?”

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