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It was as though the rains came down in protest themselves as a group of thirty+ concerned citizens walked in the Aravalli hills near Bandhwari village in Gurugram district, Haryana to protest against the NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041 on Sunday, 7th August 2022. As the city experienced thunderstorms and massive rain, this group of adults and children trekked silently for a few hours engaging in many nature based creative exercises to bring peace and tranquility of the Aravallis in their minds while grappling with the massive threat that NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041 poses to their lives.

“Delhi-NCR and the entire North Indian belt is already one of the most polluted and water stressed regions in India. As the impacts of global warming and climate change intensify, this region will get more negatively impacted. Our natural ecosystems like the Aravallis are our only shield that can protect us from the climate crisis looming on our heads. We are organising a series of protests every weekend to mark our fierce objections to the NCR Draft Plan 2041 removing terms like ‘Aravallis’, ‘Forests’, ‘Natural Conservation Zone’ from its ambit? Aravallis with their natural cracks and fissures have the potential to put 2 million litres of water per hectare in the ground every year and thus act as a critical water recharge zone for the water starved National Capital Region where the extraction is 300% more than the recharge and ground water levels are dangerously low. Without the Aravallis, life in Delhi-NCR cannot exist”, said Anuradha Prasad Dhawan from the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement which has launched a campaign asking the government authorities to remove the environmental and ecological dilutions in the new NCR plan and revise it such that it does not take away protection to the Aravallis and other natural ecosystems like waterbodies, tributaries of rivers etc in the 25 districts of India’s National Capital Region spread across the 4 states of Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh.


The Aravalli Forest in Gurugram saw the residents of the city descend upon it on Saturday morning 20th August to express their love and solidarity towards their lifeline which seems all set to be wiped out by the ill-conceived NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041. A group of more than 30 men, women and children hugged the trees that stand guard against the desert winds and play a critical role in purifying the toxic air that millions of people living in India’s National Capital Region breathe all year through.

The group stumbled upon some ancient caves in the Aravalli hills during their hike in the Ghata area of Gurugram. “The Aravallis are our historical, cultural and ecological heritage which cannot be wiped out of existence by our urban planners,” said Ayana Chaudhary, a grade 10 student.


During their hike, the people disbursed seed bombs of native Aravalli species to show their solidarity with the forest and mark their objection to the fact that the NCR Draft Plan 2041 has dropped the target, ‘total forest cover proposed to be 10% of the total area of the region’ present in the currently in force NCR Regional Plan 2021.

“Area under forests has declined from 4.02% reported in NCR Regional Plan 2021 to 3.27% in the new Draft Plan 2041. This is very disturbing when climate action demands an exponential increase in afforestation efforts by the government. To mark our love for our forests, today we dispersed seeds of Ber, Dhau, Khejri, Amaltas and Desi Kikar which are all drought resistant and native to the arid Aravallis so chances of their germination and survival are high. Some animals like the jackals eat them and the seeds get dispersed in far off areas through their droppings. As these trees will grow, they will help prevent soil erosion other than giving us oxygen and be home to countless life forms,” said Alka Saran, Founder of Earth Supporters Trust who started seed bombing in the Aravallis 5 years ago.

Introduced by a Japanese organic farmer and philosopher Masanobu Fukuoka in the last century, the seed bombs or the earth balls nendo dango as these are known in Japan, consist of a variety of different native seeds rolled in clay, compost and some water, which are then formed into small balls and dried for later dispersal at the onset of the monsoons. Nature takes care of these seed bombs and some of them germinate and grow into plants and trees. “Seed bombing is a very simple and do-able process with a possibility of far-reaching impact that citizens are participating in to increase our dwindling forest cover. We demand that our government authorities revise the NCR Draft Plan 2041 to increase the area under forests and strengthen the protection to our natural ecosystems, ” said Nitin Gupta, a Gurgaon resident and nature lover.

Neevay, a 6th grader, found a Porcupine Quill in her walk into the forest and wondered about the fate of all the creatures big and small that call the forest their “Home” and expressed hope that the authorities would show kindness towards these voiceless inhabitants of the forest and take back any and every plan that threatens their lives.

“I have done so many hikes in the Aravallis and seen jackals, peacocks, owls, monitor lizards, snakes, different kids of butterflies, moths and beautiful bugs. These hills and forests surrounding Delhi-NCR are a critical wildlife habitat & corridor and a biodiversity hotspot with 400+ species of native trees, shrubs, grasses and herbs; 200+ native & migratory bird species, 100+ butterfly species, 20+ reptile species and 20+ mammal species including leopards, neelgais, hyenas, civet cats, monkeys etc. Where will all this wildlife go if the NCR Draft Plan 2041 gets finalised?” said Sameexa Sud, a college student and member of the Students 4 Aravallis team.


As a new dawn descended upon the Pandala Hills in the Aravallis in Gurugram on the 3rd of September 2022, a group of runners armed with gloves and trash bags picked up polybags, packets of chips, gutkha sachets, plastic bottles, cans that people had left behind. The group led by the Running Coach Ravinder also registered their vehement opposition to the NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041. “I have been coming to the Aravallis for treks and running since the time when there was nothing but wilderness all over. And in the last few years, I have seen the Aravalli forests losing out to massive construction of farmhouses, cafes and what not! I have seen the lush green blanket shrink to patches dotted with buildings and roads right before my eyes. The NCR Draft Plan 2041 will be the final death knell opening up more than 70% of the Aravallis for commercialisation and real estate development,” lamented Niteshwar, a runner. 

Coach Ravinder who has been leading several running groups since many years stressed upon the need to protect and conserve the last remaining forests of Haryana, a state with the lowest forest cover in India and cities with the highest air pollution and water stress. “People do not seem to care. Look at all that they throw in the Forest that gives them life. Plastic, dirty clothes, beer bottles. It is very unfortunate to see this kind of apathy towards Nature”. He also mourned the shrinking forest trails for his runners due to urbanisation and mindless development.

Savita Kaushik, an entrepreneur from Gurgaon urged the residents of NCR to register their protest against a plan that not only robs the citizens of their right to breathe clean air but completely destroys the habitat of the diverse species. “People do not realize that their quality of life is under major threat from this plan. Haryana already has the undesirable distinction of having the highest number of world’s most polluted cities. We have been battling all kinds of pollution since years. Be it air, land or water. And the NCR Draft Plan 2041 will only intensify it further. We need to stop it in it’s tracks. And if we don’t do it, who else will?”.

Jyoti Raghavan, from the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement said, “We talk of the great Indian culture and celebrate its inclusiveness. Our culture has always laid great emphasis on conservation and protection of our “Van”. But why do we forget all about it while planning our cities? Why don’t we realize that this planet is a shared home with wildlife and a lot of other biodiversity. Why are we hell bent on taking away their homes to build our concrete ones?”

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