By Vimal Chander Joshi, 14th July,2015 for TOI Gurgaon
GURGAON: If there is one hill range in India that deserves to be treasured as heritage it’s the Aravalis. The oldest fold s in the country not only restrict the Thar Desert to a small part of Rajasthan, but also act as the primary source of groundwater recharge and green lung of NCR.
The Haryana government, it seems, has finally woken up to the importance of the hills as it is preparing to apply for Unesco World Heritage Site status for the Aravalis. TOI has learnt that chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar met with top officials from forest and tourism departments last week to discuss the proposal.
“The chief minister was apprised of the plan. The Aravali range in Haryana encapsulates an extremely rare topography that breeds plants that grow in places as diverse as Northern India, Shivalik and Thar Desert. We are sure that Unesco would recognize the legacy of these hills,” confirmed a forest department official, who attended the last week’s meeting, on the condition of anonymity.
Environmentalists are celebrating the proposal for a different reason. “You will not find a range inhabited by leopards, hyena
and nilgai so close to a big city. But these hills have been terribly exploited by the mining mafia. We hope this move helps in preserving the range,” said Amina Shervani, an environmental activist.
At a recently held seminar on Aravali range, state environment minister Captain Abhimanyu had conceded Aravali’s significance and promised work on Aravali Master plan. “The minister had underlined that the pristine range is more than 3.2 billion years old and they ought to be preserved,” said the official.
The Aravali range in Haryana covers nearly 2,000 villages in seven districts Gurgaon, Faridabad, Mewat, Rewari, Mohindergarh, Palwal and Bhiwani. There are 1,031 World Heritage Sites of which 197 are natural sites. India has 32 such sites, of which seven are natural including Kaziranga National Park, Keoladeo National Park and Western Ghats. If the Aravalis is given the status, it would be the first World Heritage site in Haryana.