The thick forest cover helps to naturally purify air in a region plagued by high levels of vehicular and industrial pollution through the year
Around 400 species of native trees, shrubs and herbs, 200 native and migratory bird species, and wildlife including leopards, jackals, nilgai and hyena thrive here
The Aravallis are crucial to groundwater recharge, which is significant given the water scarcity the region faces during harsh summer months
It was in 1900 that the then Government of Punjab enacted the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), aimed at “conservation of sub-soil water” and “prevention of erosion” by giving the state power to “regulate, restrict or prohibit” certain activities, including “clearing or breaking up” of land. As a result, for the last 118 years, the Act provided notified tracts of land in the Aravallis protection against real estate construction, urbanisation and mining.
This changed on February 27, when the Haryana government passed an amendment Bill in the Vidhan Sabha, which environmentalists have since termed a “repeal” of the 1900 Act. The Bill proposed several changes to the Act, including exclusion of land that falls under “final development plans” or any other “town improvement plans or schemes” from its ambit, leaving thousands of acres of the Aravallis vulnerable and “legitimising” hundreds of structures that have been constructed on PLPA notified land.