NEW DELHI: The National Green Tribunal has issued a stay order on three real estate companies' attempts to change the land use pattern in parts of Mangar Bani, a sacred grove off the Gurgaon-Faridabad highway. The firms had filed 90 applications with the Haryana revenue department to change use of several patches from 'gair mumkin pahar' (uncultivable) to agricultural land.
The NGT on Thursday issued notices to the Union ministry of environment, forests and climate change; several departments of the Haryana government such as town and country planning, forests and revenue; the real estate firm Kenwood Mercantile; and the deputy commissioner and the assistant collector of Faridabad.
Col Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi, a resident of Gurgaon who has been campaigning for protection of the Aravali stretch across Faridabad and Gurgaon, has pleaded that any such change be considered "illegal, null and void" as it will lead to fragmentation of the Aravalis. He also sought that the hilly areas of Mangar village be declared "deemed forest" under Section 2 of Forest Conservation Act and all non-forest activities be barred there. MoEF and the Haryana government should also commission an independent study, including a tree survey in the forested area, it added.
Oberoi has cited several Supreme Court cases to reason that the Mangar stretch is indeed forest and must be officially considered so. The Aravali stretch in Mangar is an important water recharge zone for Faridabad, Gurgaon and Delhi.
On April 1, 2014 NGT had directed that the forest area be identified in Mangar jointly by MoEF and the Haryana forest department, and they stay any activity that fragments the 'gair mumkin pahar' area.
In another case, NGT expressed regret for not involving the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) in finalizing the national policy for controlling and preventing pollution resulting from burning of agricultural remnants in open fields.
A bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar directed the additional secretary of ministry of agriculture to call a meeting comprising members of MoEF and Central Pollution Control Board within one week and finalise the draft national policy. The tribunal has listed the matter for hearing on September 25.