times of India It is learned that after the release of draft minutes of the last NCRPB meeting in October 2021, the state government had sought changes in the last minutes and had written to the board more than once. But NCRPB and Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs did not respond. The draft plan, eventually placed in the public domain, included the words “mountains and hills” to determine what a “natural area” was. Sources said that the word “mountain” was added after taking opinion from school of planning and architecture,
But the inclusion of “mountains” has done little to ease the concerns of Aravalli watchers, once the term has come to an end. “Aravallis” are protected by laws like Aravalli Notification and various Supreme court Order. “Mountains and Hills”, however, is uncharted territory, fueled by concerns about the weakening of the legal layers protecting the ancient ranges.
The “natural zone”, for which this nomenclature is being used, is itself a concern. They are a modification of the “Natural Conservation Zone (NCZ)”, and a proposal to change this nomenclature of the NCRPB has run into opposition within the government as well. According to the agenda details of the board, the Union Environment Ministry had supported the reinstatement of the term NCZ in place of “natural zone” in the regional plan. Most of the objections to the plan from the citizens were also against the dismantling of the NCZ.
NCZs, by definition, mandate the protection of a notified area and the existing rules governing it allow construction in only 0.5% of the NCZ area. There is no such specification for a “natural area”.
In both the 2001 and 2021 regional plans, the NCRPB had demarcated eco-sensitive areas such as stretches of the Aravalli Ridge, forest areas, rivers and tributaries, sanctuaries, major lakes and water bodies as NCZs.
NCZ is also mentioned in the first draft of the Regional Plan 2041. Sources said the NCZ was replaced with a “natural zone” after receiving feedback from states, especially Haryana. The draft proposed that such areas would include natural features such as mountains and hills, rivers and water bodies created by nature.
It further described “natural features” as notified for conservation or protection under relevant central or state laws and recognized in land records over time. This will include forests notified under the Forest (Protection) Act, wildlife sanctuaries notified under the Wildlife (Protection) Act, eco-sensitive areas, wetlands and conservation areas notified under the Environment Protection Act, 1986. As amended from time to time, with the notifications issued thereunder and subject to various judgments of the Supreme Court, High Courts and NGT, as applicable,” the draft read.
mostly Aravalis Revenue is land which comes under the revenue department and not under the forest department.
Sources said that the Haryana government also wanted the NGT and court orders to be quashed, but the board did not agree.
Environmentalists said the proposed Regional Plan 2041 removed important environmental safeguards from the Regional Plan 2021. “It appears that the primary zoning regulation for NCZs – the building limit of 0.5% and that too only for regional recreational activities such as wildlife sanctuaries and regional parks. Without zoning restrictions on construction, NCZ (or NZ) is toothless and meaningless and only language,” said Chetan AgarwalAn independent forest analyst.