In the months of September and October 2022, letters and signatures from more than 2,60,000 citizens across all the 4 NCR states asking for removal of environmental dilutions in the ill conceived NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041 have been submitted to 8 government offices: Prime Minister’s Office, Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change, Ministry of Housing & Urban Affairs, NCR Planning Board, 4 CM offices of Delhi, Haryana, Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan. Below are the details of the stakeholders:
Below are the details of the stakeholders:
- 5 medical associations in Delhi and Haryana representing 17588+ members.
- 2,25,226+ citizens across 4 NCR states represented through 43+ Resident Welfare Associations of Delhi, Gurgaon & Rewari in Haryana, Noida & Ghaziabad in Uttar Pradesh, Bhiwadi in Rajasthan.
- 12,900+ students & teachers from 20+ schools across the 4 NCR states.
- 1,25,000 citizens in Gurgaon city represented through their Councillor.
- 2700+ urban & rural citizens including 640 rural folk from across 65+ villages in 7 districts of Uttar Pradesh and Rajasthan have given their physical signatures.
- Industry bodies in Gurgaon and Rewari.
- Pan India environment organisations including Jal Biradari from Alwar headed by Dr Rajendra Singh popularly known as the Waterman of India, Warrior Moms fighting for the younger generations right to breathe clean air, Chattisgarh Bachao Andolan campaigning to save Hasdeo forest, Vanashakti NGO in Mumbai fighting to save Maharashtra’s natural habitats, India Greens Political Party and others.
In addition, 5400+ citizens have sent their objections through emails.
“Since July 2022 after we uploaded our detailed objections on the PMO portal, Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement has been creating awareness sessions regarding the ecological dilutions in the NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041 amongst various groups of citizens and stakeholders living in NCR’s urban and rural areas across Delhi, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh and with organisations across the country. To mark their protest and solidarity with the ecosystems that sustain life in Delhi-NCR, citizens have also been doing on ground protests in different natural areas India’s National Capital Region throughout August and September 2022,” said Jyoti Raghavan, Managing Trustee of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement.
The NCR Draft Plan 2041 is excluding terms such as ‘Aravallis’, ‘Forest Areas’, ‘Natural Conservation Zone’, ‘Man made Water Bodies’, Tributaries & Floodplains of Rivers’, ‘Forest Cover Target of 10% included in the NCR 2021 regional plan’ and other natural areas not recognised in revenue records or notified under central or state acts. This will open up more than 70% of the Aravallis and other natural ecosystems for commercialisation, real estate development etc.
“Aravalli hills and forests are the critical green lungs, barrier against desertification and water recharge zone for the National Capital Region which is among the most polluted and water stressed regions of India. Mining has already wiped out 31 Aravalli hills i.e. 25% of the hill range in Rajasthan creating gaps for the Thar desert to inch closer towards India’s National Capital region. We have to strengthen laws and plans to protect the Aravallis. These hills 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 Delhi, Gurugram, Faridabad, Haryana, Rajasthan and Uttar Pradesh 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 Diwan Singh, a Delhi based environmentalist who spearheaded the Ridge Bachao Andolan.
“NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041 in its current form is a real disaster and against our common future and that of our younger generations and cannot be implemented. All the Aravalli hills & forests, wetlands, rivers along with their tributaries & floodplains, lakes, natural and man-made water bodies etc irrespective of whether they are notified or not or mentioned in the revenue records or identified in ground truthing exercises, must get protection under the new Draft Regional Plan 2041 to enhance the air quality and water security of all the districts falling in the 4 states of Delhi-NCR,” said Dr. Rajendra Singh, popularly known as the Waterman of India in his representation to all the 8 government authorities.
The letters from the 5 medical associations in Delhi and Haryana state: “Other than the 2 months of monsoons, millions of people living across NCR inhale bad quality toxic air throughout the year. The number of children and adults that the medical fraternity treats for asthma, breathing disorders, lung diseases keeps increasing year after year. In this scenario, we cannot afford to lose our green lungs to make more buildings and roads. People’s lives are at stake.”
The letters from 43+ Resident Welfare Associations from Delhi, Gurugram, Rewari, Noida, Ghaziabad, Bhiwadi cities representing 2,25,226+ citizens across the 4 NCR states demand that the target for total area under forests must be increased to the national average of 20 percent in the new draft plan so that the quality of life for residents of India’s National Capital Region improves.
“We urge the government to call for a stakeholder consultation to discuss and strengthen the NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041 as promised by Mr. Hardeep Puri, the Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs when we met him with a group of school students on the 13th of September 2022 in his office. Heads of organisations such as WWF India, Centre for Science & Environment, World Resources Institute, Intach; Ecologists & Conservationists like Prerna Bindra, Neha Sinha, Pradeep Kishen, Vijay Dhasmana, Sunil Harsana; Environmentalists like Dr Rajendra Singh popularly known as the Waterman of India, Mr Manoj Mishra, head of Yamuna Jiye Abhiyaan, Diwan Singh; Lawyers such as Ritwick Dutta from Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment, Mr Sanjay Parikh, Aravalli forest analysts such as Chetan Agarwal, respected city & regional planners, students and members of civil society groups such as ours and others should be invited to give their inputs on how to strengthen the NCR Draft Plan 2041 environmentally and ecologically. With global warming and climate crisis looming on our heads, it is the need of the hour to make ecological conservation a central part of our urban planning,” said Neelam Ahluwalia, Founder Member and Trustee of the Aravalli Bachao Citizens Movement.