DELHI: The NCR Planning Board’s green light to more real estate construction activities in ecologically fragile zones like the Aravalis not only allows more commercial activities in the name of tourism but also gives state governments virtually a free hand in deciding how they to want to use these areas.
All a state government has to do is frame a tourism policy to use these regions commercially. This emerged from minutes of the meeting circulated among NCRPB members. The minutes mention that the clause “as per state policy” is to be inserted after the words “including tourism” in the list of permitted activities in these regions.
No such activity was permitted earlier. The revised plan was cleared by the board despite serious reservations from some of its members, including Delhi Lt Governor.
A circular issued on February 21 says the modifications, including the provision to allow construction beyond 0.5% with prior permission of environment and forest authorities, have been “approved” by the board and the revised regional plan will be notified.
Haryana’s tourism policy, which incentivizes mega tourism projects, says 70% of the area will be used for games and rides, 15% for other commercial activities and the remaining 15% for parking and green space. Commercial activities includes building multiplexes, restaurants and accommodation. The policy also allows mega tourism projects to be set up on land ranging from 2.5 to 10 acres.
TOI had earlier reported how both Haryana and the real estate lobby had pushed for tourism activities to be allowed according to a state government’s policy in their suggestions to the draft revised plan.
The minutes circulated by the NCRPB secretariat record that Lt Governor Najeeb Jung said the new rules should “strengthen rather than dilute the earlier provision”. He had stressed this was essential considering its impact on developments in adjoining areas of Delhi.
But Haryana chief minister Bhupinder Singh Hooda said that the planning committee’s recommendation to allow tourism activities and construction beyond 0.5% with conditions “does not dilute the existing provision” and is an “environment safeguard” since specific permissions have to be obtained.