100s of Aravali hillocks flattened, sandstorms reaching Delhi-NCR: Study

Source: The post is based on the article “100s of Aravali hillocks flattened, sandstorms reaching Delhi-NCR: Study” published in The Times of India on 5th June 2023

What is the News?

A recent study from the Central University of Rajasthan has found that Aravallis, one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges, now leave the path open for sandstorms from the Thar Desert to hit the National Capital Region (NCR) and western UP.

About the report on Aravali Hillocks

The report titled “The Assessment of the Land Use Dynamics of Aravali Range”. The systematic disappearance of hills at the upper level was recorded in Naraina, Kalwar, Kotputli, Jhalana and Sariska with heights of 200 metres to 600 metres above sea level. The count of vanishing hills at the lower and middle level, with heights between 50 to 200 metres above sea level, has yet to be completed.

What are the findings of the study on Aravali hillocks?

The study has identified over 31 hills in the upper Aravali range that have disappeared in the last two decades, besides “hundreds of hills” in the lower and middle levels. Until 1999, 10,462 sq km in the range was covered with dry deciduous forest. This has been reduced (41%) to 6116 sq km in 2019.

This is due to unchecked mining and urbanisation, threatening the flora and fauna of one of the world’s oldest mountain ranges.

What are the impacts of disappeared Aravali hillocks?

Places which saw the vanishing hills, like Bharatpur, Dholpur, Jaipur, Chittorgarh, have been facing more sand storms than usual. This has become an annual feature now. Apart from exposing NCR to more sandstorms, the destruction of hills and forests in the Aravalis has also led to

Increased man-animal conflict: Leopards, chinkara and sambhar deer, which live in the hills, have been entering human settlements.

Threaten existing ecosystem: Rare plants like neel, chonakurinji and karun kurinji are facing wipe-out threats.

What are the suggestions of the report on protecting the remaining Aravali hillocks?

Mining leases granted by Rajasthan (which constitutes 80% of the Aravali range), Gujarat (10%), Haryana (7) and Delhi (3) need to be reworked, and suspended in vulnerable areas.

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