Some good forests in the Aravali hills around Delhi could soon be opened to real estate sector and others for development. The Haryana government has decided to demarcate these forests, falling within the state boundaries, as non-forest lands on its records. Consequently the forest clearance regulations which currently prevent the lands from being diverted for any other activity would not apply on these lands, making it easier for real estate and other industries to chop the forests to use the lands.
The decision of the state government to do so was conveyed in April 13 by the principle secretary of the state forest department to lower officers.
At the moment under prevailing Supreme Court orders, lands with healthy forests growing are governed by strict regulations of the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, regardless of the official status of the land on government records. Under this law, prior clearance from the central or state government is required for using forest patches for non-forestry purposes.
But the Haryana government is now re-demarcating the lands in the Aravalis to distinguish forest areas from non-forest ones. It had earlier decided that until the Supreme Court took a final view on the matter, status quo would be maintained — good forests growing on revenue lands would also be recorded as forestlands, where the Act applies, keeping real estate and other developmental activities out of bounds for the green patches. But taking a U-turn, the government has now decided to classify these patches as non-forest lands in its records, unless the central government advises the Supreme Court otherwise at a later date. Large chunks of forests in the Haryana Aravalis were never put on government records as forestlands and could now formally be recognised as devoid of protection of the green laws.