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| Last Updated:: 01/01/2015

Posh farmhouses eating up Aravalli range

 The Haryana government's ambitious project to protect the natural habitat of wildlife in the Aravalli region has been hit because of farmhouses, which are involved in construction at the cost of chopping trees.


Mail Today visited Aravalli Retreat and Raisina region in Gurgaon district's south zone and found that at least 15 trees were chopped at different places, while one farmhouse owner had cut off a tree just because it was impeding construction of a wall. It was found that several farmhouse owners are constructing walls beyond the permissible 10-foot limit.


The forest landscape is undergoing a change because the farm owners are not hesitating in axing trees falling in their property. They have also dumped sand to fill up pits and even the surface. A sand mountain and a dumper were found in an Aravalli Retreat farmhouse.



The area falls under the Aravalli notification under sections 4 and 5 of the Environment Protection Act, 1992, which does not permit construction in "Gair Mumkin Pahar" (non-cultivable land), but the owners and builders have opted for Change of Land Use (CLU) to construct beyond the permissible limit.


HSPCB south zone regional officer Navin Gulia said any construction in "Gair Mumkin Pahar" violates sections 4 and 5 of the Haryana Land Preservation Act, 1992. He added that according to a Supreme Court order, any nonforestry activity in this area amounts to breach of forest laws and is a punishable offence.


An under-construction site in the area that witnesses an infrastructure boom at the cost of deforestation.An under-construction site in the area that witnesses an infrastructure boom at the cost of deforestation.When asked about an underconstruction building in the Aravalli Retreat, labourers working at the site were in the dark regarding the identity of the owner. Two farmhouse owners have not mentioned any name at the gate, but they were found constructing walls.


"A tactical ploy of farmhouse owners is to outsource the contract to building contractors with clear instructions that they not reveal name of the owner. They are using boulders to construct walls," said Ramesh Yadav, a villager of Raisina.


Haryana State Pollution Control Board (HSPCB) officials said that the board has, since 2005, served 700 notices followed by prosecution against violators under the Aravalli notification dated May 7, 1992.


Besides, the board's regional office in Gurgaon has served 80 notices followed by prosecution in the north zone and around 200 in the south zone against farmhouse owners in 2014 for allegedly carrying out construction beyond the permissible limit. Incidentally, the number of culprits on the list exceeds the total of last year.


A large number of offenders are prominent personalities, including political leaders, Army officers, film personalities, tycoons and senior government officials who own farmhouses in Gurgaon and Mewat districts falling under the Aravallis. Interestingly, the board has issued multiple notices to some people for breaking norms.


Gurgaon deputy commissioner T.L. Satya Prakash said whenever such a violation is noticed, the board registers an FIR against the offenders after the district administration verifies it.