Wednesday, June 19, 2024

Gurugram housing project revived, threat to 60K trees

The Haryana Shehri Vikas Pradhikaran’s (HSVP) decision to revive a 20-year-old housing project in Sector 54 on the Gurugram-Faridabad road here, which falls in the Aravalli’s no construction zone, may lead to axing of 60,000 trees. The project has not only met resistance from environmental activists but has also initiated a tussle between the HSVP and the Forest Department.
The Forest Department is probing the feasibility and legality of the project, which will be spread over 103-acres land. The land reportedly falls in the Aravalli plantation area, which has been declared no construction zone as per the Supreme Court’s ruling. Gurugram Deputy Commissioner Nishant Yadav has also started examining the issue. Yadav said, “The Forest Department is claiming that the land is part of the Aravalli plantation zone, which falls in the no construction zone, while the HSVP says that it is their acquired land and zoning it as no construction zone is not valid. We are looking claims of both the departments. A panel of experts will review the matter. We will decide on legality of project soon,” said DC Nishant Yadav.
The HSVP had acquired this land some 20 years ago. The plan to develop it was prepared in 2014. As per the plan, 42 group housing societies will be developed on 58 acres and in the remaining area supportive infrastructure such as schools, hospital, parks and roads will come up. The department in an attempt to generate revenue decided to renew the plan and even set aside 20 crore to materialise it. However, a few months ago the Supreme Court order clarified that Aravalli plantation area is a forest and falls in the ambit of no construction zone.
“When the land was acquired around 20 years ago, it wasn’t under forest cover and any restrictions as per revenue records. Trees grew on the land in the following years as it was left vacant. But the growth of vegetation doesn’t change its status. We have urged the DC to remove it from the ambit of the Aravalli plantation area,” a senior HSVP official said. However, environmental activists aren’t satisfied with the HSVP’s take and are citing examples of recently demolished residential areas in Faridabad’s Kant enclave against the decision.
“Every part of the Aravallis is ‘forest’. The status of land 20 years ago or even few months ago is irrelevant. Just to generate revenue the HSVP can’t axe thousands of trees. If the HSVP goes ahead of the decision then we will move to the National Green Tribunal and the court. The project is in violation of SC ruling and has no legal standing,” Jatinder Bhadana of Save Aravalli Trust, an NGO, said.

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