Encroached green patch in Sarai Khwaja may be converted into biodiversity park

Faridabad municipality was planning to sell land teeming with diverse fauna to real estate developers

By Salma Rehman
Published: Wednesday 27 June 2012

Fourteen hectare green patch of land in Sarai Khwaja village in Faridabad has got a new lease of life. Parts of the green patch is encroached upon by local people. Now, a committee formed after the residents complained about the encroachment has recommended that it should be converted into a biodiversity park. The city municipality which was considering auctioning this land to real estate developers is now seriously considering the recommendations of the committee

The land is home to several animals and birds like wild deer, neel gai, rabbits, wild hen, peacocks and reptiles. The area can be best utilised for water harvesting as it has undulating land surface; two water bodies in the area host several migratory birds each year. The area is surrounded by residential colonies like NHPC, Omaxe Valley and Green Field.

The green patch is also historically relevant. It has ruins of old monuments and home to Indraprastha Gurukul, a religious centre established by Swami Shraddhanand, renowned Arya Samaj missionary in 1916. Great freedom fighters like Subhash Chandra Bose are believed to have stayed here. But the place had been neglected by the local authorities for long. Thus, around 2010, local people set up temporary shanties. Some part of the land was converted into scrap yard.

“My wife Emily had registered a complaint with the Deputy Commissioner in the year 2010 after which the encroachments were removed but they were re-established soon,” says M S Sodhi, a retired government official and presently a resident of the Green Fields colony. Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) had fenced a portion of the land that was also forcibly removed by the local shanty dwellers. The area was being turned into a dumping ground by the occupants, he adds.

It was only after repeated complaints from the residents of the nearby colonies that the district magistrate formed a committee under additional deputy commissioner on May 18. The committee made site visits on June 14 and 19 and submitted its report on June 26.

The committee has recommended that the area be cordoned off by constructing a boundary wall. It has also asked the forest department to explore the possibility of declaring the area as a biodiversity conservation park. The report noted that the two water bodies in the area could be expanded.

The team during its visit also found that MCF is planning to auction the land to real-estate developers to generate revenue. The committee objected to it and stated, “Faridabad is a highly industrialised area. This area has undulating landscape and can be developed as green lung for the city.” Commercialisation is no solution, it added. Instead it said, “The funding for developing this area should be explored by MCF in Jawahar Lal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) scheme of the Government of India as this scheme also funds creation of urban green spaces.” It also suggested to additionally create recreational facilities in the park to earn revenue. “We realise how important the area is not just because of its ecological but also historical relevance,” says Pradeep Godara, additional deputy commissioner of Faridabad who led the committee. He adds the team enthusiastically supports the conservation of the area by any means.

“The area is highly crucial for the city and we will try our best to carry out eco-restorative measures in association with MCF,” says Vasvi Tyagi, district forest officer of Faridabad. Hema Sharma joint commissioner of MCF says that the Corporation will consider the recommendations and put forward their proposal in their official meeting.


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