DELHI: A 1992 notification of the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has proved spoiler in the protection of Aravalis in Faridabad and has paved the way for real estate players to eye these areas. This also seems to have given a free hand to the Haryana government to issue approvals for non-forest activities in these areas.
The Aravali notification dated May 7, 1992, which restricts non-forest activities, including setting up industries, construction of clusters of dwelling units, farms houses, sheds, community centres and any other activity connected with such construction (including roads and part of any infrastructure), covered areas falling only under Gurgaon and its adjoining district Alwar. The restriction is applicable to entire common hill land and all zones that were covered under section-4&5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA). For any non-forest activity in areas falling under the PLPA notification, it is mandatory to get prior approval from the MoEF.
Government sources said Haryana routinely refers to the Aravali notification to justify that Faridabad has not been covered and hence the state government has greater liberty. Even the NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) and MoEF are on a collision course on this issue. "The MoEF should have revised the notification and covered the entire Aravalis. This would have put end to all confusion and indiscriminate clearances and approvals by the state government," said a source.
The Aravali notification was issued in response to a Supreme Court order over a project by real estate major Ansals in Raisina Hills in Gurgaon.
No amendment was done to the notification despite the SC in 2004 observing that Aravalis must be protected at any cost.
However, NCRPB's regional plan- 2021, issued in 2005, clearly mentioned that "no such activities should be undertaken in the Aravalli range in NCR". In addition, the environmentally sensitive areas such as Aravalis were identified and demarcated as Natural Conservation Zone with a hard limit on construction of 0.5%.
But in the revised (draft) regional plan 2021, which is yet to be notified, the board has deleted the line that extended the Aravali notification to the entire range.
What had hurt the green lungs further is the Haryana government's move to hold the proposal to notify more common hill lands in areas including Mangar under section 4&5 of the PLPA since 2011.