A group of environmentalists has objected to the Haryana government’s ambitious project for a Safari Park in the Aravalis arguing that it was in violation of various forest laws and Supreme Court orders and demanded the withdrawal of the tender notice for it.
In a representation to various officials concerned, including the Chief Secretary, the environmentalists have argued that the project was illegal on various counts and would also damage the flora and fauna of the region. The tender was floated by Haryana Tourism Corporation in May this year.
The letter has been signed by Vaishali Rana, Vivek Kamboj, Roma Vinayak and Col. (retd.) S.S Oberoi.
The letter said the location of the proposed 10,000-acre project spread across the Aravali Hills region in Gurugram and Nuh came under the category of “forest” as recorded in the land records and as per the several orders and directions passed by the Supreme Court and the National Green Tribunal. “The total land area proposed includes categories such as Punjab Land Preservation Act Sec 4/5, Aravalli Plantation, PLPA & Aravalli Plantation Overlap, Gair Mumkin Pahad/Bhood and Unclassed Forest/Protected Forest,” said the letter, adding that each of these categories was considered forest under the various judgements and notifications.
In another objection, the environmentalists, in the letter, said the tender proposed construction of establishments such as children parks, hotels, restaurants, aquarium, cable car, open-air theatres, etc, but these types of establishments were non-site specific construction and such construction of infrastructure was prohibited by the Supreme Court in M.C. Mehta v. Union of India case.
Though the tender said the proposed area to be undertaken for safari was contiguous patch of land having degraded green cover due to development activities and anthropomorphic pressure, the environmentalists argued that the degraded forest was also protected under the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. They said as per the National Forest Policy, there was a need for massive programmes for afforestation in all degraded and denuded lands.
The letter also pointed out that any fresh construction was banned by the Supreme Court because it required clearing and breaking of an area or land.
Ms. Rana said they would be constrained to approach appropriate forum in case the government did not withdraw the tender.