Gurgaon district administration Monday said the process to identify 6,000 acres of land in Gurgaon for the proposed jungle safari park— reportedly the largest outside Africa and spread across 10,000 acres — in the Aravalli range covering Gurgaon and Nuh, has been completed.
Last week, Haryana Chief Minister Manohar Lal Khattar said that Haryana will develop a curated jungle safari park spread over 10,000 acres in the Aravalli range. After returning from Dubai, where he and Union Minister for Forest, Environment and Climate Change Bhupender Yadav visited the Sharjah Safari, Khattar said the proposed safari would include a large herpetarium (a zoological exhibition space for reptiles and amphibians), aviary/bird park, four zones for big cats, a large area for herbivores, an area for exotic animal birds, an underwater world, nature trails, visitors, tourism zones, botanical gardens, biomes, equatorial, tropical, coastal, and desert areas, adding that the safari would boost tourism and generate employment opportunities to locals.
Forest department officials said the proposed safari will have designated zones, which would be fenced, and large enclosures for tigers, lions and leopards that will be relocated from zoos. An official said a jungle safari in the region would help protect wildlife. “The central zoo authority has done an evaluation study of the area and found it technically feasible for setting up a safari park,” the official said.
Gurgaon deputy commissioner Nishant Kumar Yadav said, “More than 6,000 acres of the proposed jungle safari falls in the Gurgaon district. The area earmarked includes land in ten villages — Shikohpur, Bar Gujjar, Nauranpur, Tikri, Aklimpur, Gairatpur Bass, Sakatpur, Ghamroj, Bhondsi and Alipur. The land will be given on a lease for 33 years. Requisite resolutions will be passed for availability of land falling under the municipal corporation and gram panchayats and gram sabha jurisdictions. If there are any encroachments in the area demarcated for the safari project, the forest department will get them removed by sending notice as the area of Aravalli comes under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA). A majority of the area identified is free from encroachment.”
The proposed safari project has evoked mixed responses among environmentalists and wildlife conservation experts.
On September 22, a group of environmentalists from Gurgaon had written to senior officials of the Haryana government demanding withdrawal of the expression of interest for the international design competition for the development of Aravalli Safari Park, stating that activities proposed under the project would damage the flora and fauna of the region. The environmentalists said that there were apprehensions that in the name of conservation, the project could pave the way for more non-forest activity in the Aravalli region in future.
“Undertaking such activities is also a violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. We will file a petition in the NGT to challenge it,” said Vaishali Rana, an environmentalist.
However, a city-based environment and forest analyst said that the project was a welcome move. “If we are able to conserve a large area spread across 9,000 acres, then it is an acceptable trade-off. The project has to be developed while being sensitive to the wildlife and ecology of the region. It is hoped and expected that a bulk of the area under the project actually goes into conservation. The contours and specifications of the policy and conservation element of the safari are yet to be exactly known,” said the expert.