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NGT terms Aravali land 'deemed forest'


GURUGRAM: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has termed 52 acres of Aravali land in Faridabad's Sarai Khwaja, where more than 6,000 trees were allegedly minimize in June 2017 for a real estate project, a 'deemed forest' despite each the Haryana executive and the Union environment ministry (MoEF&CC) arguing conservation laws didn't follow there because it was once no longer forest land.
The order was once described by environmentalists as a landmark one because it makes the land in Sarai Khwaja the primary in the state to be legally categorised as a 'deemed forest'. Haryana, which has India's lowest forest duvet, is but to officially outline forests as in line with the dictionary meaning, which the Supreme Court has directed it to do.

That is why implications of the NGT order cross way past the 52 acres; no longer simplest does it set a benchmark for defining forests and 'deemed forests', it additionally removes some ambiguity around 50,000 acres of Aravalis which are in the 'but to be made up our minds' class of NCZ (natural conservation zones). An NCZ is an area where development has tight restrictions.

Coming just days after the Supreme Court requested the Haryana executive to put on dangle its controversial invoice -passed by the meeting - amending PLPA, the regulation protective the Aravali foothills, the NGT order brought double cheer to environmentalists who have been combating criminal battles to increase more protection to the natural preserves in Delhi-NCR, a lot of which is in the Aravali ecosystem.

The NGT was once listening to a petition filed in June 2017, alleging the state had given permission for felling of trees on 52 acres of 'forest land' for a housing project of a real estate corporate. It rejected the state executive's declare and the MoEF&CC report that the 52-acre land was once no longer a forest. The order stated, "It is difficult to uphold the stand of the state of Haryana with which MoEF&CC has agreed that the area in question is not a forest area. Once it is so, mere fact that the area is included in part of Sector 47 in the Master Plan is not conclusive to hold the same to be not covered by the definition of 'forest' in terms of law laid down by the Hon'ble Supreme Court in Godavarman and Lafarge (Supra).. The land in question is, thus, held to be 'deemed forest'."

In 2017, the state executive gave permission to the developer to axe trees and perform development at the 52-acre land, pointing out that there are not any deemed forests in Haryana. A petition filed by Lt Col Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi (retd) challenged this. It highlighted that the land in query was once ‘gair mumkin pahar (uncultivable hill)’, which in 2015 was once put in the ‘but to be made up our minds’ class of NCZ, and actual estate development was once therefore no longer permissible there on account of the restrictions.


Reacting to the order, Oberoi mentioned, “The stand of field officers of the Haryana forest department and the enquiry officer, who additionally visited the web site and stated that the realm was once a ‘deemed forest’, has been discovered to be correct by the NGT. This signifies that the action of the then additional leader secretary (forest), who mentioned it was once no longer a forest, has been discovered to be wrong. It is high time Haryana implemented the Godavarman judgment and known ‘deemed forest’ in the Aravalis and all the state.”


Chetan Agarwal, a forest analyst, mentioned, “This is a historic moment in the forestry governance of Haryana. The Supreme Court in the Godavarman judgment, 1996, had directed Haryana to identify spaces that appeared like forest, however were not recorded or notified as forests. Now, the NGT has fulfilled the mandate of the judgment and known the primary ‘deemed forest’ in the state. This has implications for the 50,000 acres of Aravalis no longer safe beneath PLPA sections 4 and 5. The land in Mangar Bani and the Aravali Biodiversity Park (Gurugram) additionally fall on this class — all looking forward to their ‘deemed forest’ status now.”






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