Exemption Granted, Aravali Hillock to Make way for Road in Gurugram

An Aravali hillock, some 40 feet high and protected as forest land, will be flattened to make way for a road in Shikohpur.

The Gurugram Metropolitan Development Authority (GMDA) has received permission from the Union environment ministry to raze the hillock in Shikohpur village for a master road that is meant to ease travel between sectors 77 and 79, officials said on Friday.

A 3.8km master road to be built

The 3.8km master road will connect Naurangpur area with Shikhopur, and multiple group housing societies such as Mapsko Mount Ville, Godrej Aria, Supertech Araville, and Monsoon Breeze in the neighbouring sectors. The hillock stands on a 180-metre stretch of the road project, over half of which has been completed, they said.

“Road construction work is moving at a fast pace. We have got permission from the Union ministry of environment and forests to cut the hillock,” said GMDA’s executive engineer Abhinav Verma.

The authority is now getting in touch with the mining department to eventually auction the stones that are quarried from the hillock after it is leveled, Verma added. Mining in the Aravalis is otherwise illegal in three districts of south Haryana: Gurugram, Nuh and Faridabad.

Parts of the hill range – the only barrier that obstructs the desert in Rajasthan from expanding eastwards into Delhi-NCR – are protected under the Aravali Notification, 1992, which bars non-forest activities. The hillock about to be razed is designated ‘gair mumkin pahar’, or uncultivable hill, under land records.

But there are provisions within the Notification that allow for exemptions on a case-by-case basis. This can include permitting infrastructure development, modernisation of industry, electrification, and construction of farmhouses, sheds and community centres, etc.

To carry out any non-forest activity – in this case, razing the hillock — authorities have to apply to the Union environment ministry with details of the project and the area in question. They also have to give an environment impact assessment and management plan to the ministry for approval.

Officials said they applied for this exemption for the master road project in 2019. They got the MOEF’s approval this month.

On Friday, some activists said the Aravali Notification’s exemption clauses defeat the purpose of such a rule meant to protect the hill range.

“Proposals sent by the governments to divert Aravali land for construction of any other work are hardly ever rejected. Even though the forest area is protected, authorities keep diverting its land for other uses. There has been no effort to protect the Aravalis and increase forest cover,” said Vivek Kamboj, a Gurugram-based environmentalist.

On Thursday, GMDA chief executive officer Sudhir Rajpal visited the project site to review work. Officials said 55% of the construction work is complete on both sides of the hillock, and the remaining is likely to be finished by the end of next month.

Source : TOI

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