Revised NCR plan makes room for construction

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NEW DELHI: Despite stiff opposition from within the NCR Planning Board ( NCRPB) and environmental activists, construction beyond 0.5% and tourism activities in nature conservation zones (NCZs) have been allowed under the revised NCR plan.

The move was seemingly undertaken to cater to Haryana government’s demands.

An RTI query filed by one Col S Oberoi has revealed that, in the 62nd meetings of the board’s planning committee in October and December 2013, the chief regional planner had proposed 0.5% restriction on construction in NCZ to safeguard these areas from urbanization. After the Haryana government proposed inclusion of “tourism” in the list of permissible activities in NCZs, the additional secretary in the urban development ministry suggested this can be done if construction is limited to a maximum of 0.5% of the area of the NCZ.”

Finally, the planning committee recommended, “Regional recreational activities (including tourism) with no construction exceeding 0.5% of the area, except with specific permission of the competent authority under applicable environment and forest laws.”

But this was not enough for the Haryana government. At the last board meeting in January, the chief secretary suggested “as per applicable policies” be added. Environment activists allege this will ensure that the state has a free hand in allowing different activities, including commercial projects, by simply forming a favourable state tourism policy.

Responding to this, the NCRB member secretary said the issue was discussed in “great detail” and the planning committee carefully structured the formulation of this provision to ensure protection of the natural conservation zone. However, the minutes approved by the chairman of the board say the clause “as per state policies” was included after the “including tourism” clause in the list of permitted activities in NCZs.

Environment activists have pointed out dilutions made in the revised plan, for example, “forest” as a land use category has been substituted with “green area”. While forest cover, as per the Forest Survey of India is 2,131 sq km, the NCR land use analysis and map show only 1,126km as green area which is a huge dilution of forest cover in NCR. Sources said most of the missing forest falls in Aravali region.


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