UPSC CSE – SYLLABUS: GENERAL STUDIES-3- Conservation, environmental pollution and degradation, environmental impact assessment
Aravalli – Environmental concern
- The Haryana government’s recent decision to move a bill in the assembly to amend the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) threatens the existence of the Aravalli.
- The proposed bill essentially allows construction and other activities in areas where it was previously disallowed due to the enforcement of the PLPA, and can potentially destroy over 60,000 acres of forest — almost 50% of the entire Aravalli range in South Haryana.
- The Aravalli range, one of the oldest fold mountains on Earth, has been in existence for about three billion years.
- The mountains stretch along the north-western frontiers of India, shaping the climate, hydrology and biodiversity of the region. It curbs wind velocity, checks evaporation, recharges ground aquifers, which are depleting rapidly. Extraction of ground water in this region is 300% more than its recharge.
- Aravalli’s dry, deciduous forests, rich green valleys, rivers, streams are abundant with a unique mix of flora and fauna and mineral-rich soil.
- As per a 2017 survey by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), the Aravalli in Haryana support leopards, hyena, fox, jackals, blackbucks, sambar, chinkara, porcupines. It has over 400 species of native trees and shrubs and over 200 species of birds.
- For billions of years, it has stood strong, as an impenetrable green barrier against the advance of the Thar Desert towards the fertile soils of Haryana and Delhi.
- The WII survey showed that vegetative gaps have appeared in the ranges of the Aravalli. Encroachment, mining, real estate development, privatisation of common lands, and a lackadaisical approach to resource management have destroyed the Aravalli, shrinking it by 40% in the last four decades.
- The desert is advancing towards the Northern plains. There was an increased frequency of dust storms in the last few years. In June 2018, when Guru gram was choking under a thick blanket of dust for days, spiking pollution to catastrophic levels.
- Further, the destruction of Aravalli will potentially lead to more intense and frequent dust storms, hotter summers, peak levels of pollution, and even greater water shortages.
The way forward:
- All our efforts should be concentrated on rewilding the Aravalli, restoring its forests, nurturing it back to health.
- The Supreme Court had earlier directed the Rajasthan government to immediately stop illegal mining in a 115.34-hectare area in the Aravalli range. This is a welcome order.
- As a signatory of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, India should take adequate measures to stop desertification through protection of Aravalli.
- SOURCE:” Hindustan Times.”
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