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Haryana

Hry moves to eat into Aravali green cover

February 12, 2019 06:09 AM

COURTESY HT FEB  12

Hitender Rao & Jayashree Nandi hrao@hindustantimes.com ■
Hry moves to eat into Aravali green cover
The state government has decided to amend law that will open up more land for realty projects

Diluting PLPA to expand real estate (activity) will destroy the Aravalis and severely damage the quality of life of both current and future generations.
CHETAN AGARWAL, environment activist

From page 01 CHANDIGARH/NEWDELHI :The Haryana government has decided to amend the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) in a move that could affect the Aravalis, catchments of the Badhkal, Surajkund and Damadama lakes, and other forest areas in a state which boasts the lowest forest cover (3.59%) in the country, although the move will open up more land for real estate development and also remove the bottlenecks for some projects in limbo.

The change involves excluding tracts of land included in the final development plans or town improvement plans from the ambit of the PLPA.

The state government plans to table an amendment Bill in this regard in the budget session of the state assembly next week.

PROPOSED AMENDMENT TO BENEFIT REAL ESTATE DEVELOPERS The proposed amendment will come to the rescue of real estate developers, the Haryana Urban Development Authority (HUDA) and individuals by allowing construction activity in areas where it was previously disallowed due to enforcement of PLPA.

The amendment will also grant legitimacy to Kant Enclave in Faridabad, built on PLPA notified land and which was ordered to be demolished by the Supreme Court.

The apex court held that “Kant Enclave is a forest or is a forest land or is required to be treated as a forest or forest land and absolutely no construction activity could have been permitted on it with effect from August 18, 1992. Any and all construction activity in Kant Enclave since that date is illegal and impermissible in law.”

Environmentalists were quick to target the state government for its dilution of the green law.

“Aravali areas are the only forested areas in cities like Gurugram and Faridabad. They provide critical ecological services like ground water recharge, are wildlife habitats, and are also the last green lungs in rapidly concretising cities. Diluting PLPA to expand real estate (activity) will destroy the Aravalis and severely damage the quality of life of both current and future generations,” said Chetan Agarwal , an environment activist.

ACT AIMED AT SAVING SOIL FROM EROSION

The PLPA legislation was enacted to save the soil from erosion. It is applicable to all of Punjab and Haryana.

Certain activities, including construction, are barred in areas of northern Haryana along the Shiwalik hills which are prone to soil erosion due to water flow, and also in the rugged terrain of southern and western Haryana which are prone to erosion both by air and water.

About 25,000 ha of Aravalis in South Haryana fall under PLPA.

The state government, however, is approaching the development-environment equation from the other side.

“Lakhs of dwelling units, commercial buildings, industrial units, public buildings, massive public infrastructure and agriculture activities over about one-fourth (about 11,000 sq km) of the geographical area of the state are affected (by PLPA). Sale and purchase of such land and immoveable properties have become liable to be considered illegal. Such unintended consequences adversely impacting livelihood of millions of citizens need to be allayed and remedied,” said the draft amendment Bill, a copy of which has been seen by Hindustan Times.

Land under PLPA accounts for almost a fourth of the total land area of the state.

According to the draft amendment, the law will now also not apply to land underlying any scheme published under the provisions of Punjab Town Improvement Trust Act, the Punjab Scheduled Roads and Controlled Areas Restriction of Unregulated Development Act, the Faridabad Complex (Regulation and Development) Act, the Haryana Development and Regulation of Urban Areas Act, the Haryana Municipal Corporation Act, and the GMDA and the FMDA Acts.

AMENDMENT TO COME WITH RETROSPECTIVE EFFECT

The amendment will be applicable with retrospective as well prospective effect, which means projects stuck on account of the law will now receive the allclear.

“The Supreme Court ruled in 2004 that the Aravalis have to be protected at any cost. It observed that PLPA areas were forest even if PLPA notifications had expired. Therefore, any attempt to dilute the act will threaten the Aravalis and be directly contrary to the directions of the court,” said Lt. Col (retd) Sarvadaman Oberoi.

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