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In the pipeline: Armed flying squad to protect Aravallis from encroachments

The Department of Environment and Forest,Haryana,has issued a letter to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest to take serious note of all non-forest and illegal mining activities taking place in the Aravallis.

Written by Tanushree Roy Chowdhury | Gurgaon |
March 17, 2009 12:47:13 am

The Department of Environment and Forest,Haryana,has issued a letter to the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) to take serious note of all non-forest and illegal mining activities taking place in the Aravallis.

In the letter,the Environment and Forest Minister Kiran Chaudhary has directed S K Dhar (PCCF) to constitute a task force of forest officials in the districts of Faridabad and Gurgaon and submit weekly reports on various violations in the eco-sensitive zone.

Confirming the news,S K Dhar said: “The orders have been passed by the minister keeping in view the seriousness of indiscriminate violations by builders,colonisers,farmhouse owners and the mining lobby. The minister also took into account recent reports of injuries caused to wild animals in these forests due to illegal encroachment that has destroyed their habitat.”

The flying squad will consist of a gazetted officer as its head,who will be assisted by a range officer,a block officer,a surveyor and forest guards. The department also plans to equip the team with arms. “The squad will be assigned the task of preparing reports. It can also take action on the spot under provisions of the law,” Dhar said.

The orders come after R P Balwan,Conservator of Forests,South Circle,Gurgaon,had written to the PCCF,the Forest department,the chief secretary and the financial commissioner of Haryana,highlighting violations in the villages of Gwalpahari,Balola,Ghata,Wazirabad,Sohna,Raisina,Nangli and Baharampur in the Gurgaon district and villages Anangpur,Kakarpur,Pali,Manger and Ankhir in Faridabad.

The report said “thousands of farmhouses have been constructed illegally and colonisers have also used forest areas under Sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Conservation Act 1900 and other plantation areas. Construction of boundary walls was in progress at places in Mewla Maharajpur and Ankhir in violation of court orders of February 13,2009. All constructions have been done in violation of the Forest Conservation Act,1980,PLPA and SC orders.”

When asked whether the team will consider demolition as an “option”,sources close to Kiran Chaudhary said: “Since the matter is sub-judice,we are awaiting the court’s orders before initiating action.”

When asked to comment on the matter,Haryana Chief Secretary Dharambir said: “I have not seen the recommendation of the Forest department and do not want to comment on a departmental issue. The state government has filed an affidavit in response to the centrally-empowered committee’s report to the court. Our report has inputs from affected parties like the department of mining,Town and Country Planning,the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad and HUDA (as a separate party).” When asked to specify the amnesty for Aravalli structures,the chief secretary said: “There are certain structures (and mining) in the area but I cannot recall names without taking a look at the affidavit.”

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