As many as 565 violations of environmental laws have been reported from Gurgaon and Mewat areas of Aravalli hills from April 1992 to March 2015 but no action has been taken in even one case, an RTI reply has revealed.
“As many as 565 violations have been noticed till March 2015 since the implementation of Aravalli notification. But no action has been taken against any official yet under the provisions of Environment Act,” the RTI reply says. Of these 565 violations, 524 were even reported in the National Green Tribunal, the court that hears complaints on environmental norms violations, but no one has been penalised so far. A total of 41 complaints are pending with various departments because the required land ownership documents are not available.
An MoEF (Ministry of Environment and Forests) notification in May 1992 had prohibited a range of activities on four categories of land, including those areas notified as forests in the state government’s land records in Gurgaon and Alwar districts. The activities prohibited or requiring prior permission included setting up new industries or their expansion, mining operations, cutting of trees, electrification, construction, etc. The restrictions were put in place because the area is a wildlife corridor between two wildlife sanctuaries. Tampering with the forests can adversely impact the ecologically sensitive area.
According to the RTI reply, the violations reported included several activities prohibited by this notification. Construction of boundary walls, cutting of trees, construction of shops and gate pillars, installation of tube wells and submersible pumps are some activities reported from the area.
Activists, however, believe that statistics provided in the RTI under-reports the actual number of violations. “Activists report violations almost on a daily basis. It shows that most cases go unreported as authorities are hand in glove with offenders,” Vivek Kamboj, a Gurgaon-based environmentalist, told The Times of India.