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News: Forest Survey of India has found that more than 30 hills in the Rajasthan segment of Aravalli range have vanished due to the flattening of land by the mining mafia.
In recent years, Aravalli has seen a lot of destruction and this is impacting not just the area around it but also the surrounding areas up to NCR.
According to a desertification-related study undertaken by the Central University of Rajasthan this menace is only going to exacerbate due to climate change.
It has characteristically served as the green wall, or a natural fence, between the desert and adjoining fertile plains.
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What is causing degradation of Aravalli?
– Increasing population pressure
– Changes in rainfall pattern
– Spreading of sand dunes
– Flawed plantation drives.
– Unchecked quarrying and illegal felling of trees
– Clearing of land for the construction of farm houses and residential colonies
– Over-exploitation of resources and reckless urbanisation.
What are the implications of this damage?
Compromised capacity of the Aravalli to control the spread of the desert. Due to this, desert would spread towards the east, causing aridity in the fertile plains.
– Thinning of the vegetative cover creates large openings for the sand-loaded winds to cross over to Delhi and nearby areas, aggravating urban pollution in the region.
– Dusty winds from the desert are already raising the PM10 content of the NCR’s air, worsening pollution in Delhi. It is also posing a grave threat to the ecology of the agriculturally vital north-western states.
Impact on the rich biodiversity of the Aravallis comprising a large variety of plants, animals, and birds.
What is the issue with the Draft NCR Regional Plan 2041?
Governments of the four north-western states are aware of the danger from the unrestrained denudation of the Aravallis, but little substantive work has been done to improve the situation.
The draft NCR Regional Plan 2041 also does not deal with this issue with required urgency.
On the contrary, It redefines the natural conservation zone, keeping most part of the Aravallis out of it.
Curbs regarding construction activity will virtually be lifted if the Regional Plan 2041 is adopted and enforced in its present shape.
What is the way forward?
Draft NCR Regional Plan 2041, therefore, needs to be revisited and suitably modified to include the entire Aravalli range in the natural conservation zone.
Although ideally, the govt should prepare a separate plan for rejuvenating the Aravallis to allow it to play its inherent role as the Thar Desert’s outer barrier.
Source: This post is based on the article “Protect the Aravalli Range” published in Business standard on 6th Jan 2022.