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Congress flays Haryana decision on forest buffer

                                                                                                             The Hindu, Chandigarh, 12th February, 2015


Gaurav Vivek Bhatnagar

 ‘Any reduction in the zone would be environment-unfriendly’

 The decision of the Haryana Government to approach the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB) for review of its decision to earmark 500 metre buffer around Mangar Bani, a forest area in the Aravalis along the Gurgaon-Faridabad highway, as ‘no construction zone’ has come in for scathing criticism from former Haryana Forest Minister and now Congress Legislature Party leader Kiran Choudhry for being “environmentally unfriendly”.


Ms. Chaudhary said she, as Forest Minister in the previous Congress Government, had got the buffer zone notified in 2010. She cautioned that “any reduction in the zone would be environment-unfriendly, shall affect the ecology of the area, and kick off a fresh war between environment activists and the State Government.”


Conservation zone


The Congress leader said environmentalists had earlier written to Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar to make concerted efforts to protect the region. So much so, they even requested him to amend the sub-regional plan (SRP)-2021 to bring the entire Aravallis under the natural conservation zone.


To bring Aravalis under the natural conservation zone (NCZ), Ms. Chaudhary said the Haryana Government has left a big loophole which can result in rampant urbanisation in the region and pose a threat to the ecology. “In stating that the areas that are urbanisable don't fall under NCZ, the government has left a big loophole. This is a big threat to the future of the conservation of Aravalis,” Ms Choudhry stated.


Since only 3.2 per cent of the area in Haryana is under forest cover, mostly concentrated in the Shivaliks and Aravalis, the Aravali hills need to be notified as legal forests so that the green cover remains green forever, she said. Moreover, since the villagers call it Mangar Bani and treat it like a sacred grove, the government should respect their belief, she added.