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Waste-to-Wonder Park: Controversy over Faridabad Corporation’s plan for the Waste-to-Wonder Park in the ‘Deemed Forest’ area | Gurgaon News

Gurgaon: In a controversial move, the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) plans to build a waste-to-wonder park in Sarai Khawaja, a 15-hectare land classified as ‘considered forest’ in the Aravalis. Non-forestry activities are prohibited in the area. The civil body’s move marks a significant departure from previous practices, where non-forestry activities were mainly carried out by locals or private companies. This time it is a government agency that is pushing the boundaries. The proposed area is adjacent to the Bharti Airtel site, which was earlier classified as ‘deemed forest’ by the National Green Tribunal (NGT). The company’s decision has sparked a debate over the balance between development and environmental conservation, raising questions about the future of the Aravali forest. It remains to be seen how the authorities will tackle this complex issue, balancing the need for development with the need to preserve and protect the environment. According to the forest department, MCF’s proposal to develop a park in the area is in clear violation of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. The department has recognized the area as forest land in several notices. “It falls under the general section of 4 and is mentioned in the Forest Survey of India (FSI) report as a scrub and open forest area, which has similar forest cover to the adjoining plot declared as forest by NGT during the period . the hearing in Bharti Airtel case in 2019. So based on that inference, this area is also considered as forest and hence non-forest activities cannot be allowed,” said a forest official on condition of anonymity. In a report submitted to NGT on On August 17, 2017, the area was considered “as forest” by the Conservator of Forests (Central) of the Northern Region, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF & CC). The tribunal in its order dated March 8, 2019, stated: “The land in question is thus deemed to be forest.” Experts, meanwhile, said that non-forest activities are not allowed in the Aravalis and setting up a park is not a site-specific project and should not be allowed in environmentally sensitive areas. “As per the 2011 Lafarge judgment of the Supreme Court, if there is a dispute regarding Aravali land, the matter should be referred to the regional office of MoEF&CC as the apex court has directed to identify the supposed forests. This exercise needs to be completed first,” said Chetan Agarwal, a forest analyst. However, MCF has claimed that the area does not fall under forest land protected under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900. “The Sarai Khawaja area, one of the locations we are considering for the waste-to-wonder park fall into the ‘gair mumkin’ category. It is not protected under the PLPA, 1900. We want to create a special area, which is not a shopping center, movie theater or restaurant, where residents can visit and take their children there. We are exploring multiple locations for setting up a Vishwadeep Park with replicas of monuments in Europe made from scrap metal. It will contain elements from all continents. Faridabad generates a lot of waste that can be used in the park. There will be large installations and open spaces where people can picnic together. For this we need 10 to 15 hectares of land. We don’t want to set this up in any sector because access will be limited. Parking can also be a problem. We want all sections of people to enjoy the park, so it is difficult to get suitable land,” MCF commissioner A Mona Sreenivas told TOI.