Despite the Supreme Court taking a strict view on illegal construction on the Aravalli forest range, Haryana’s town and country planning department is planning to tweak the definition of conservation zone, opening up 900 acres from the region for commercial use.
According to official sources, the department has directed all districts to give their reports on natural conservation zones (NCZ), but has asked them to exclude the sandy foothills areas or ‘Bhood’. Excluding those areas would be a big bonanza for the developers as the valuation of these lands are very high. This revised classification would also include some areas in Gurugram, Sohna, and Faridabad.
“The valuations are very high and that would help the government with huge revenue. For development, one has to unlock huge land parcels. These funds are going to be used in development,” an official from the town and country planning department said, confirming the development to this publication.
The idea was earlier mooted in a meeting held in September last year. However, the final nod was given during its last meeting. However, environmentalists are already warning of devastating effects, with dissenting voices inside the town planning department itself.
“It is pure greed. The exclusion of ‘bhood’ will accentuate the water problem as this area is essential to recharge groundwater. This needs to be stopped. The impact of removing the green belt is already creating havoc in NCR,” another official added.
Environmentalists say the degradation of the Aravallis can cause erratic rainfall and increased air pollution. The NCR Regional Plan for 2021 also restricts construction in NCZ areas and all of the Aravallis are categorized as such in the plan. However, the decision to reclassify these regions is not yet final and the NCR Planning Board can still overrule the town planning department’s decision.