Forest Conservation Efforts – NFP, Western Ghats, etc.

[op-ed snap] Assault on Aravallis

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Mains Paper 1: Geography | Geographical features & their location

From UPSC perspective, the following things are important:

Prelims level: Aravali ranges (location, unique features)

Mains level: How does Aravali mountain range help in pollution reduction in Delhi NCR and Indo-Gangetic plain in general


Context

Degradation of Aravali Mountain Range

  1. The Supreme Court has reprimanded the Rajasthan government for its failure to check illegal mining in an over 100-hectare range of the Aravalli mountains
  2. India’s oldest mountain range has lost nearly a fourth of its hills
  3. The apex court referred to a report of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) — the body that advises it on forest-related matters — which pointed out that 31 of the 128 hills in the Aravallis “have vanished”

Impact of the loss

  1. It could be a reason for the rising pollution levels in the National Capital Region (NCR)
  2. In the past two decades, several studies have pointed out that the denudation of the hills is leading to the drifting of desert sands towards the plains
  3. Last year, a study by the Wildlife Institute of India pointed out that the shrinking green cover in the Aravallis is a major reason for the increase in the intensity of dust storms in the Indo-Gangetic plains

Importance of Aravali

  1. Extending for nearly 700 km from Banaskantha in Eastern Gujarat to Southern Haryana, through Rajasthan and Delhi, the Aravallis have played a major role in shaping the terrain of large parts of north-western India
  2. For more than three billion years, its hills have moderated the velocity of winds that blow towards North India and resisted the advance of the Thar Desert towards the fertile Indo-Gangetic plain

What needs to be done?

  1. SC’s strictures on mining in the range should be followed in letter and spirit
  2. Illegal construction in the Aravalli hills needs to be stopped
  3. The censure should apply to the Haryana government as well

Way forward

  1. The warning bells rung by the latest CEC report should make the two state governments change their ways
  2. While the Aravallis’ role as a green lung for the NCR should, in itself, be the compelling reason to halt its degradation, the other ecosystem services it provides demand the strict application of the principle of sustainable development to regulate activities such as mining and construction
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