Pleading to be allowed to undertake more non-forest activities, including real estate projects, in the ecologically fragile Aravalis, the Haryana government has moved a proposal to amend a key provision in the Regional Plan of NCR 2021, which restricts using barely 0.5% of land for “recreational activities”.
In its proposal to the urban development ministry, the Manohar Lal Khattar government has demanded that the restriction be lifted in the Aravalis. The state government has argued that since the apex panel of NCR Planning Board (NCRPB) has approved that the Aravali notification of 1992 will be applicable for the entire range, there is no need to have this restrictive provision on allowing construction activities.
The ministry is likely to discuss the issue with Haryana government officials next week and may ask NCRPB to prepare a draft to amend the provision.
Haryana has said such zoning regulations of Regional Plan-2021 (restricting only 0.5% of construction, that also for recreational activities) should not be made applicable since this is an additional restriction. Harayna had consented to this provision when the regional plan was notified in early 2000. But subsequently, the Bhupinder Singh Hooda government raised demand to lift this restriction to allow more real estate activities in the guise of “recreational projects”, though it never succeeded.
Now after making public commitment to protect and conserve Aravalis, the BJP government has raised the similar demand like that of the Hooda government.
Haryana government has argued that the Aravali notification of 1992 specifies the activities which can be permitted after getting prior approval from the ministry of forest and environment (MoEF). Hence, there is no need to have another restrictive condition.
The Regional Plan-2021 mentions that in Natural Conservation Zones (NCZs), which include Aravalis, lakes and other water recharge zones only agriculture, horticulture, pisciculture, social forestry/ plantations and recreational activities can be permitted.
Green activists said though the state may claim that MoEF guidelines would be enough to safeguard the environmental impact, doing away with restriction for non-forest activities will open up Aravalis for ruthless commercial exploitation.