GURGAON: Farmhouses in Aravalis have always been in controversy. Every year, the Forest and Pollution Control departments carry out cosmetic demolitions in some of the farmhouses citing some violations or the other, yet the state government allows more farmhouses to come up.
Taking advantage of the notification of controlled areas, which have covered more portions of Aravalis, farmhouses have been coming up in several parts of the protected zone in Gurgaon and Faridabad.
“As per the rules, non-forest activity is not allowed in the Aravali plantation area and on all the stretches notified under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA). So, why allow the farmhouses to come up and demolish them. These areas should be treated as no-go zones and no residential activity should be allowed,” said a Forest department official in Chandigarh.
Local officials act only when there is an external pressure, either from court or when they have to submit a case, the official added. In fact, Saturday’s demolition drive at Ansal’s Aravali Retreat happened only after a recent visit by the Central Empowered Committee ( CEC) set up by the Supreme Court. The committee had found violations.
This has exposed how the local agencies are either unaware of the violations or are intentionally ignoring reports from the ground. “How can violations like tree felling, illegal mining to build boundary wall not come to our notice when we have our people in every region? They must be held responsible,” said an official.
As per the Aravali Notification issued by the Union Environment and Forest ministry, felling of trees and construction in the notified area without prior permission is not allowed.
The issue of violations by farmhouse owners comes to limelight when a leopard is caught or killed or the courts pull up the local administration. “Several farm houses are owned by various Central and state ministers, lawyers and industrialists besides serving and former bureaucrats and NRIs. So, no one dares taking action against them,” said an insider.