2012.05.31 citizens letter on godavarman wp 202 of 1995 06.07.2011 to secy mo ef and cs haryana

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2012.05.31 citizens letter on godavarman wp 202 of 1995 06.07.2011 to secy mo ef and cs haryana

  1. 1. To, 1. Chief Secretary, Govt of Haryana, Haryana Secretariat, Chandigarh 160001 2. The Secretary Ministry of Environment & Forests Paryavaran Bhawan CGO Complex, Lodhi Road, New Delhi 110003 Subject: Improper Implementation of Judgement dated 26.07.2011 in Lafarge Case Dear Sir, 1. The Secretary MoEF letter dated 05.09.2011, forwarded by the Chief Secretary Haryana letter dated 21.09.2011 to the Financial Commissioner & Principal Secretary Haryana Forests Department (seen by PCCF, Haryana Forest Department on 22.09.2012), has sent some sort of a guidance note to implement the Lafarge Judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 26.7.2011, in a time bound manner. 2. However, we are dismayed to state that the actual guidance letter that was ultimately sent as a consequence of the above guidance note of MoEF by PCCF Haryana to all DFOs (Territorial) signed by the APCCF (Forestry) Haryana on 31.01.2012 (copy attached) has critical omissions, that would definitely result in non-compliance of the Judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court dated 26.07.2011. 3. The PCCF Haryana letter dated 31.01.2012 (a) restrictively interprets deemed forests, with a narrow focus on lands notified under Sections 4 & 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900, only, thus excluding
  2. 2. other Aravalli Project Treated Areas and the Rest of the Aravalli Hills, and (b) fails to make any mention whatsoever about the all important wildlife corridors as regards the preparation of the GIS data-base. 4. There are certain other serious omissions which are listed out separately in remaining paragraphs. 5. If this so called guidance note is the only basis for the DFOs (Territorial) in preparation of geo-referenced map and GIS database, this will definitely lead to non-identification of most of the deemed forests of the six districts of Aravalli Hills of Southern Haryana, including Gurgaon and Faridabad. Also inter-district and inter-state wildlife corridors would fail to be properly identified. Thus there is prima facie risk of violation of the letter and spirit of the Lafarge Judgement, if this situation is not immediately rectified as it is now nearly one year and the judgement stated that it shall be implemented within six months. Details are as follows. 6. Key elements of part II of the Lafarge judgement, emphasized by the Secretary, MoEF in letter dated 05.09.2011, and directing compliance are: a. That “each State/UT government, needs to complete the exercise undertaken by them, in compliance of the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s order dated 12.12.1996 in the W.P. (Civil) No. 202 of 1995, to identify the areas which are “forests” irrespective of whether they are so notified, recognized, or classified under any law, and irrespective
  3. 3. of the land of such "forest" and the areas which were earlier "forests" but stand degraded, denuded and cleared” (Part II (xii) of the Lafarge Judgement) b. That “The exercise, as per the guidelines issued by the Hon’ble Court, should culminate in preparation of a geo-referenced map indicating the location and boundary of each plot of land that may be defined as ‘forests’ for the purpose of the Forest Conservation Act 1980.” (Part II (xii) Lafarge) c. Preparation of a flow chart by a process of joint consultation between States and MoEF depicting, the tentative nature and manner of incorporating the proposed safeguards, to eliminate chance of the grant of Environment Clearance to projects involving diversion of forest land by considering such forest land as non-forest. (Part II (xiii) Lafarge) d. That Guidelines issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court require the creation and regular updating of a “GIS based decision support database” by the States with assistance of MoEF. (Part II (vii) Lafarge) e. That, the GIS data base should contain inter-alia the district-wise details for 4 categories of information including “(iii) important migratory corridor(s) for wildlife”. (Part II (vii) Lafarge) 7. Aravallis in Faridabad district of Southern Haryana may be divided into areas:
  4. 4. a. Notified under section 4 and 5 b. Planted in Aravalli Project c. Regenerated in Aravalli project d. Rest of the Aravalli areas (neither planted/regenerated under Aravalli project, and not notified under section 4 and 5), that have primary or secondary regenerating forest. 8. We are dismayed to state that that the APCCFs letter ignores the primary instruction (at 6 a. above) to complete the exercise of identifying deemed forests, irrespective of notification and current condition (degraded, denuded and cleared). This is a pre-requisite to preparing the geo-referenced map, and the GIS based database at 6 b. and 6 d. Instead, it focuses only on Sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act 1900. 9. The narrow focus on Sections 4 & 5 (of PLPA), in the APCCF’s letter dated 31.01.2012 thus excludes a large chunk of Aravalli areas. 10.In Mangar village (district Faridabad) alone, for example, only about 1/3 of the area is notified under section 4 & 5 of PLPA, and about 2/3 of village Aravalli hills areas (recorded as gair mumkin pahar) is not so notified. The proposal for notification of this 2/3 area under Section 4 & 5 of PLPA is pending with the Haryana Forest Department/Govt. of Haryana. 11.There is extensive vegetation of trees, bushes and shrubs in nonSection 4 & 5 (PLPA) areas. While most are degraded due to mining
  5. 5. etc, heavily wooded and even pristine patches remain. The best example is the sacred grove of Mangar Bani and its buffer – which is dense forest but is not notified under Section 4 & 5 (PLPA). As per the Lafarge judgement guidelines these areas – whether degraded or not are categorically included as deemed forests. 12.Secondly, even while focusing on the aspects of GIS database, the Haryana Forest Department APCCF letter dated 31.01.2012 fails to mention the all important instruction for the incorporating districtwise details and the boundary of “(iii) important migratory corridor(s) for wildlife.” 13.Due to their geographic location, the Faridabad Aravallis are a critical link in the Aravalli forest and wildlife corridor between Delhi (esp. Asola Bhatti sanctuary) and Gurgaon-Mewat-Alwar Aravalli hills extending to Sariska National Park and form a large and still relatively unfragmented habitat. A leopard recently reported from Asola Bhatti sanctuary in Delhi, is likely to have reached via the Faridabad Aravallis. (Times of India 3.3.2012 – Bhatti Mines spring to life) 14.It is pertinent to state that the Faridabad Aravallis (including Mangar Bani sacred grove) are an important wilderness and wildlife habitat adjoining Delhi, and, contiguous with the Asola Bhatti Sanctuaries in the Delhi ridge, thus forming a natural buffer to them.
  6. 6. 15.In Jan 2009 the minutes of a meeting of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court and the Govt. of Haryana, which were submitted to the Supreme Court, stated that the Mangar Bani deemed forest should be acquired by the State Government as a Reserve Forest/ Protected Forest. 16.Thus it seems on the one hand, the Government of Haryana and the Haryana Forest Department is (1) keeping the proposal to notify the rest of the Aravalli hills in Mangar village under Sections 4 & 5 of the PLPA on hold, (2) is unwilling to identify the rest of the Aravalli deemed forests and (3) is unwilling to identify the wildlife corridors, and at the same time, despite letters from the DC and DFO Faridabad, it is moving ahead with its plans to notify the draft Mangar DDP 2031, with its numerous gaps and flaws. 17.It seems that the Government of Haryana and the Haryana Forest Department are hiding behind procedural delays and ambiguities, while in the meantime real estate speculators are buying up the Aravalli hills in anticipation of the Mangar DDP 2031. 18.Exploiting these delays in identifying deemed forests, there are reportedly multiple RTIs being filed in the Faridabad DFO office demanding to know which, if any, forest related laws are applicable on Aravalli areas outside Sections 4 & 5, and what is the scope of the powers of enforcement by Haryana Forest Department on such Aravalli lands.
  7. 7. 19.This is rapidly leading to a fait accompli situation, wherein, property prices in the Aravallis have double or tripled, with reports of large scale land bank building by real estate firms, and numerous instances of tree cutting wherein hundreds of trees have been cut in last one year by paying a measly fine of approx. Rs 500/- to Rs 2000/- per tree depending on species and girth class. This is allegedly being resorted to in expectation/ anticipation of major windfall gains from land use change basis lack of tree cover. 20.We fear, that in an area on the border of Delhi, within the buffer of the Asola Sanctuary, that includes Mangar Bani one of the largest known old growth and pristine sacred groves in the Aravalli hills, will be irretrievably lost to real estate. 21.It may also be noted that the Haryana Forest Policy 2006 prepared on the basis of National Forest Policy 1988, which has been held by the Apex Court in the Lafarge judgement to have the force of law has stipulated that forest cover in Haryana shall be 10 percent by 2010 and 20 percent by 2020, whereas the Forest survey of India Report 2011 has pegged forest cover in Haryana at 3.64 percent with Faridabad at 4.32 percent and Gurgaon at 8.35 percent, which is far below the levels mandated in the Forest Policy. 22. As per the Forest Survey of India Report 2011 the categories of land in Aravallis fall in five categories all of which are forest or deemed forest as mandated in the Lafarge Judgement dated 26.07.2011: (a) Very Dense Forest.
  8. 8. (b) Moderately Dense Forest. (c) Open Forest. (d) Scrub. (e) Non-Forest. 23.The MoEF has not yet finalised comprehensive policy for inspection, verification and monitoring and the overall procedure relating to the grant of forest clearances and identification of forests in consultation with the States (given that forests fall under entry 17A of the Concurrent List). This may be finalised as early as possible. (Part II (xv) Lafarge) 24.Implementation of the Lafarge Judgement in letter and spirit, to identify all deemed forests especially those falling in the Aravalli hills, irrespective of notification, ownership, and current condition on an urgent basis. 25.You are requested to kindly take note of points mentioned above and a. kindly ensure preparation of national level and state procedure for identifying deemed forests with expert and citizen participation especially those falling in the Aravalli hills, irrespective of notification, ownership, and current condition on an urgent basis. b. make available latest FSI forest cover maps at district level to DFOs to enable them to identify deemed forests c. direct for identification of inter-district and inter-state wildlife corridors including for lesser mammals such as leopards, hyena, jackal etc.
  9. 9. d. freeze the Mangar DDP 2031 and keep it on hold till the deemed forest guidelines per Lafarge judgement dated 26.07.2011 are issued and implemented in the Aravalli zone. e. ensure Forest Clearance, Environmental Impact Assessment and Environmental clearance for all Urban Development/ Master Plans including the Mangar DDP 2031, before their publication, f. given the critical importance of the eco-sensitive Haryana Aravallis, being water recharge zone for water starved Faridabad, Gurgaon and Delhi, wildlife corridor between Delhi, Haryana and Rajasthan and also being deemed forest they should immediately be notified as a permanent No-go Zone. Date: 31.05.2012 1. Sarvadaman Oberoi Tower 1 Flat 1102, The Uniworld Garden, Sohna Road, Gurgaon 122018 Haryana INDIA Mobile: +919818768349 Tele: +911244227522 email: manioberoi@gmail.com 2. Chetan Agarwal, Gurgaon, email:chetan_agarwal1@hotmail.com

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