Govt destroying Aravali green cover to push realty: Activists

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NEW DELHI: Environmental activists have alleged large-scale felling of trees in the Aravalis, particularly in Mangar and Roz Ka Gujjar, as the Haryana government pushes hard to get its revised sub-regional plan approved by the NCR Planning Board. The activists allege the ploy behind clearing of forests is to project that many areas in this region have no vegetation.

“There was huge illegal cutting of trees. The chopped trees were being transported at night. It appears that the land mafia, in connivance with the bureaucracy, is continuously felling trees and clearing forests in this area so that they can get no-objection certificates (NOCs) for farmhouses and colonization,” former forest conservator R P Balwan alleged.

The officer, who had fought against the mining and real-estate lobbies before taking voluntary retirement, said the state revenue department was preparing the ground to destroy forests. “When the entire area is covered under sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) and Aravali plantations are fully covered under the Supreme Court judgments, why is the government going ahead with consolidation of forests areas?” asked Balwan.

According to rules, no non-forest activity is allowed in areas under PLPA notification without prior approval of the environment and forest ministry.

The state government has been pushing for sweeping changes in the regional plan to allow tourism activities despite opposition from different quarters. Recently, it submitted the revised sub-regional plan to the NCRPB so that licences for private real estate development could be issued quickly.

Activists have been accusing the Haryana government of pushing non-forest activities in the Aravalis by bringing more areas under the agriculture zone.

The state’s proposal to approve the Mangar Development Plan, meanwhile, has hit a wall after green activists objected to the proposal of developing a mega tourism complex that would destroy a portion of the forest in the area.

“So, we feel there is a design behind clearing forests so that when there is satellite mapping, no trees are found,” said Chetan Agrawal, an environmentalist.


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