Stop the destruction of the Mangar forest
The Union environment ministry's request to the Haryana government to protect the natural forests near Mangar village on the outskirts of Delhi seems to have gone in vain. The state is all set to finalise the Mangar Development Plan 2030. It proposes non-forest activities in the ecologically sensitive Aravalli hills near Mangar village in Faridabad, which includes Mangar Bani. The forest is one of the last patches of the natural Aravalli forests. The Bani, with its native tree species, has been protected by the village residents for centuries as a sacred grove (See ‘http://www.downtoearth.org.in/content/unhappy-bani’). It also happens to be a habitat to several wildlife species and acts as a ground water recharge zone in the denuded Aravalli hills. The draft plan, notified on May 17, classifies the plains and hills in the area as agriculture zone and proposes development of universities, godowns, bus-stand, railway station, power plant sub-station and dhabas in the area. Even lime and brick kilns, and stone quarrying and crushing are sought to be allowed. “Mega Tourism Projects” of up to 500 ha are also proposed in the region. The Bani and the surrounding hills are not protected by the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) of 1900 which does not permit non-forestry activities on land covered by the law. The Supreme Court's direction to protect areas under Aravalli plantation scheme also does not cover these forests. We still have time to raise objections till June 18. I think we must propose to have a sanctuary (like a Wild Life Sanctuary or a Bird Sanctuary) in the complete region how many ever square kilometers is the Bani. In the long run this will be one good way of keeping nature for children, grandchildren, great grand children and so on. This will also generate revenue because of eco tourism and also people will appreciate the government's venture and will definitely spread goodwill amongst us countrymen.