A day after Haryana government was pulled up for a delay in notifying the natural conservation zones (NCZs) in its districts falling under the National Capital Region (NCR), the Punjab and Haryana High Court Thursday asked it to strictly ensure that no construction or construction-related activity takes place in the entire area of Aravalli hills except for which permission has been taken from the Supreme Court constituted high-powered committee or the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change.
The division bench of Chief Justice Ravi Shanker Jha and Justice Arun Palli in the order recorded the undertaking of Haryana government’s Forest Department that they will take all possible steps to ensure that no construction takes place in Aravallis except for which the committee or central ministry permission has been taken. The court also said that state is at a liberty to take action against any illegal construction in the area.
The High Court Wednesday, in a different matter, had lambasted the Haryana government for delay in notifying the NCZs and observed that the state government should “say so” if it was “politically committed” to destroying them. It also questioned the Haryana government’s assertions that the term “Aravalli range/hills” does not exist in the state revenue records and actual uses such as agriculture, roads, buildings etc. have been prevalent for decades in the area there recorded as Gair Mumkin Pahar.
During the hearing of the PIL filed by a Gurgaon resident Harinder Dhingra for banning the constructions in Aravallis keeping in view a 1992 notification, the division bench observed Thursday that again it is the “same story” and reiterated that the Haryana says “we do not know Aravallis”. “By the time we dispose of the petition, you make sure Aravalis are not there?” remarked the court.
Dhingra in the petition has said that state government has kept large areas of Aravalli hills outside the ambit of NCZ in a status “to be decided/confirmed” and alleged that the state government is trying to dilute the forest cover. With regard Aravalli hills, the state government has been asserting that even though the land is recorded as Gair Mumkin Pahar, any categorisation of these lands as Aravallis may not be practical and in accordance with ground realities as activities such as agriculture, roads, buildings etc are prevalent there for considerable time.
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