Other States

Activists raise red flag over draft plan

The draft Regional Plan-2041 for the National Capital Region has dropped or amended several environmental safeguards present in the current plan (Regional Plan-2021) with a possible long-term disastrous implications for the Natural Conservation Zone in the region.

The 40th meeting of the National Capital Region Planning Board was held through videoconference on Tuesday, but the draft report could not be approved after the Haryana government sought more time for submitting its comments.

Though the draft plan says that the components under Natural Conservation Zones (NCZ) as in RP-2021 shall remain and be continued to be conserved, it categorises these as “forest” and “green cover” areas and makes the conservation of “green cover” optional.

New categorisation

Demanding that the distinction between the “forests” and the “green cover” be dropped, the environmentalists have expressed apprehensions that large areas of Aravalis not categorised as forest will lose their mandatory conservation status under the new provision. Similarly, waterbodies and riverbanks will also be prone to construction as per the new categorisation.

The draft plan, in another major amendment, said that the “0.5% to total area under NCZ is allowed for related compatible development which could be either at one place or at multiple locations, subject to other approvals, Acts of different States...”.

This, said environmentalists, could have serious implications as the State governments could use the entire quota of 0.5% in one or few concentrated locations, thus, effectively breaching the limit of 0.5% per plot, that was there earlier. The Regional Plan-2021 allowed regional recreational activities with no construction exceeding 0.5% of the area with the permission of the competent authority.

Several important provisions with regards to the forest cover and conservation of monuments, man-made heritage sites and riverbeds have also been dropped making them prone to construction.

The RP-2021 said in view of very low existing forest cover (4.02%) in the NCR, more areas be brought under forest to maintain ecological balance, all wastelands be identified and brought under forest cover and added that the total forest cover be 10% of the total area of the region. But this has now been dropped in the new draft plan.

Similarly, the mandate to keep waterbodies free from any encroachment/development to allow free flow of water and prevent construction and habitation activities in the flood-prone areas/river beds/banks has been dropped.

Lt. Col. (retd.) Sarvadaman Oberoi, an environmentalist, said the Regional Plan-2021 with its restrictions on construction plays a key role in keeping real estate out of the Aravalis of the NCR. He expressed hope that the dilutions proposed in the draft Regional Plan-2041 would be rolled back.

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Printable version | Dec 5, 2021 8:00:18 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/activists-raise-red-flag-over-draft-plan/article36215148.ece

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