Aravalli attacked: Land mafia chopping off green cover surrounding Capital
Land-grabbers are ravaging the green Aravallis, chopping off trees in the ancient ranges passing through Gurugram and Faridabad districts.
The encroachers have cut thousands of trees in Mewla, Anangpur, Ankhir and Margerbani in Faridabad district and Bandhwari, Ghata in Gurugram over the last one week - not only peeling off the green cover but also marauding across the natural habitat of thousands of species of fauna.
"Chopping off trees is the first step by the land mafia to silently acquire land in the Aravalli ranges. Then they flatten the surface so that the land can be projected as cultivable in the court of law. Thereafter, they seek no-objection certificates from authorities to construct concrete structures," said Kailash Bidhuri, a lawyer who has been moving courts against this practice.
Under Articles 4 and 6 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, people cannot encroach upon the Aravalli ranges as they are considered 'Gair Mumkin Pahar' (non-cultivable land).
There is also a provision that any land that is labeled cultivable should have been used for cropfarming by villagers for the last 10 years atleast.
Here's the modus operandi of the land mafia: The miscreants first chop the trees to clear the way so as to be able to reach a desired piece of territory.
Then they flatten the surface by chopping more trees, pull out stones and dump clay in hollow areas. The clear, flat piece of land is then presented before authorities and in court with the plea that it does not come under 'Gair Mumkin Pahar.' "The land mafia generally works on contract basis, and on the basis of acreage. Four hundred trees were chopped in Ankhir village, spread across four acres land which belonged to a private company. Around 200 trees were hacked off in Mangarbani - which also belonged to another private player.
Besides, land mafia purchases land from villagers and sell at rates of Rs 70 lakh to Rs 1 crore per acre to private players," said Jitender Bhadana, an activist running 'Save Aravalli NGO' in Faridabad.
Unfortunately, the forest departments of the respective districts are turning a blind eye to this horrendous assault on the Aravallis.
They just impose a fine (called 'Damage Forest Report)' which is a paltry Rs 1000-11,000 depending on the numbers of trees chopped.
Haryana forest minister Rao Narbir Singh said: "We are going to do a drone-survey of Aravalli mountains to collect encroachment status and prepare a database. The drone will be equipped with photo and video cameras to capture the present status. In case of any nonforestry activities, we will match the areas with our database to detect the offence."