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NEW DELHI: The Haryana government is likely to submit its final view on what consists Aravalis in the state at the 37th meeting of the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) to be held on Monday. The agenda notes of the meeting accessed by TOI state that Haryana government seeks to limit ‘Aravalis’ to only the stretches in Gurugram. This leaves out large parts of the Aravalis in Faridabad (over 17,000 acres) and other districts from any kind of protective regulation.
The Haryana government has informed the NCRPB that it will consider only those areas to be part of the Aravali range that are mentioned in the Aravali notification of 1992 issued by the environment ministry and not recognise any additional areas to be Aravalis. The 1992 notification is applicable only to Gurugram in Haryana and Alwar district in Rajasthan.
The agenda notes recount that the Haryana government is against any cap on construction activities in the natural conservation zones (NCZs) as defined in the draft regional plan 2021. The plan includes Aravalis in NCZs where construction is not allowed beyond 0.5% of the area. The Haryana government had, however, stated in the NCRPB’s special meeting in December 2016 that the 1992 notification allowed for construction of roads and buildings even in the Aravali areas with permission from the Union environment ministry. So, Haryana will not consider any additional cap on construction specified in the draft regional plan of NCRPB.
Further, in a letter dated June 15, 2017, the Haryana principal secretary (town and country planning department) has informed the ministry of urban development that it will consider only those areas to be Aravalis that are appended in the 1992 notification table. “Therefore, for any area of Haryana to be considered as being part of NCZ by virtue of being Aravalis, it must necessarily be a part of the said table,” the letter said.
The agenda notes said that NCRPB had written to the Haryana government to clarify their stand recently. “It appears that the above decision (limiting Aravalis to Gurugram) has been taken without taking into consideration the decisions of the board taken in its special meeting held on December 20, 2016 w.r.t. identification or delineation of ‘Aravalli’. This is also against Govt of Haryana’s earlier confirmation in this regard given in the said Special Meeting of the Board. Accordingly, it is requested to reconsider the decision in the matter.”
In letters submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in July 2017, the Haryana government had claimed that “certain pockets recorded as gair mumkin pahar (uncultivable hill)” cannot be categorised as Aravalis as they are already being used for agriculture, roads, buildings and other such projects. A letter dated January 19, 2017, from Haryana CM Manohar Lal Khattar to Venkaiah Naidu, the then Union urban development minister, was also submitted in NGT along with an affidavit from the town and country planning department, which states that the Haryana government will enforce the ‘Aravali notification’ of 1992, which is only applicable to the Aravalis in Gurugram and Alwar in Rajasthan.
But the Union environment ministry (MoEFCC) had told NGT that the Aravalis across NCR can be defined through the revenue record ‘terms’ listed in their May 1992 notification. Apart from reserved forests or places already classified as ‘forest’ in government records, areas categorised as gair mumkin pahar (uncultivable hill), gair mumkin rada (foothills, pastures), gair mumkin be hed (ravined foothills), banjar beed (cultivable grassy foothills) and rundh (rocky areas between two hills) in entire NCR will be treated as Aravalis.
The planning committee of NCRPB had also decided that the Aravalis in entire NCR be delineated based on the 1992 notification. “Therefore, Govt. of Haryana should expedite the exercise of NCZ delineation and submit the final report to the environment ministry, in compliance to the decision of the 35th board meeting,” the agenda notes state. But the Haryana government has still not started the process of delineation leaving ecologically sensitive areas vulnerable to real estate and other projects.
Earlier in May, 2015, the state had given an assurance in the board meeting of the NCRPB that it would maintain status quo on 50,000 acres of primarily Aravali areas, whose legal forest status was yet to be determined. However on May 1 2017, the government had withdrawn the forest status to be decided tag – stating there are no such areas in the state. This has left even the Mangar Bani sacred grove without a forest tag.