Mangar: A 500-acre sacred forest preserved over centuries in the concrete jungle of Faridabad, Haryana - the Mangar Bani in the Aravallis - is home to several native species, including about 30 endangered plants. The Haryana government, however, has marked out the area for development in its draft masterplans.
Naturalist Pradip Kishen, however, says that this would be a disaster. "If you get rid of this huge area as recharge area, Delhi is going to go completely dry as well as Gurgaon," he says.
Haryana's draft masterplans allow 20 non-forest activities like mining, megatourism projects and even thermal power stations in the forest. What is worse, they also permit development activities which could destroy 75 per cent of the total Aravalli forest cover of the Gurgaon district.
The natural forest thrived due to protection from locals. Sixty five-year-old Dhaniram says that he and others in his village don't even let their cattle graze in the forest. "We have been worshipping the forest for years. We don't even break a twig from there," he says.
Villagers of Mangar claim that they were conned into selling the land to private players. The Environment Ministry in May this year asked the Haryana government to put the masterplans on hold and identify the forest first. But four months have passed and the Haryana government has still not followed the order. Urgent action is needed if the Aravallis including Mangar Bani is to be saved.