A former army man has moved the National Green Tribunal against the Haryana government’s sanction to chop trees in the eco-sensitive Aravalli Hills prompting the green panel to seek a response from the Centre. A vacation bench headed by Justice U D Salvi issued notices to the Environment Ministry, the Manohar Lal Khattar government, the National Capital Region Planning Board, Ajay Enterprises Pvt Ltd, Bharti Land Limited, and others.
The green panel asked them to file their replies before July 3, the next date of hearing. The tribunal was hearing a plea filed by Lt Gen (retd) Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi, who alleged that the state government granted permission to two companies for felling trees for developing a housing society in village Sarai Khawaja in Faridabad without obtaining forest clearance under the provisions of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980.
The plea raises the issue of direction to grant permission for felling of trees to Bharti Land Ltd in collaboration with Ajay Enterprises Pvt Ltd without obtaining forest Clearance for the area which is recorded as “Gair Mumkin Pahar” (land unfit for cultivation) and forms part of Aravalli hills and considered as deemed forest.
According to the plea, filed through advocate Meera Gopal, the two firms had approached the divisional forest officer of Faridabad seeking permission for felling approximately 1,000 trees in the land acquired by them, measuring 52.2991 acres, in Sarai Khawaja village of Faridabad.
It contended that the Deputy Conservator of Forests of Faridabad wrote to the Conservator of Forests, South Circle, Gurgaon on September 30, 2015, that such a permission cannot be granted as it forms part of Aravallis which are ecologically sensitive.
However, in another letter dated April 24, the Additional Chief Secretary Forest Department wrote to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests directing him to grant necessary approval for felling of mesquite trees to the Bharti Land Ltd.
“Direct an independent team of the Environment Ministry, Forest Survey of India and Haryana Forest Department to assess the number and size of tree species individuals and other bushes/shrubs actually present on the ground on the said lands recorded as gair mumkin pahar, extent of deforestation, and conduct a satellite baseline assessment,” the plea said.
It has also sought direction to the Haryana government to declare all Aravalli hill including areas recorded ‘gair mumkin pahar’ as confirmed natural conservation zone, based on their Aravalli status alone, as shown in the Regional Plan 2021 and Haryana Sub Regional Plan 2021 and to prepare a village wise list of Khasra numbers of such areas.