National Human Rights Commission: The NHRC has taken suo motu cognizance of media reports that massive deforestation in Aravali Hills for business interests in the States of Rajasthan and Haryana is the root cause behind the increasing dust storms and air pollution in Delhi-NCR region during the past several days creating health concerns. Reportedly, the open forest cover in the Aravali Hills has decreased in the last three decades while the scrub has increased by 5.7 per cent making it almost barren without any moisture in the air.

The Commission has observed that the gravity of the issue demands proactive and effective measures by the authorities concerned to stop deforestation and degradation of Aravali Hills. Heavy vegetation can prevent the situation from further deterioration and create a green barrier against the sand storm. The citizens and the public authorities have to become more sensitive towards protecting the eco system around the mountains, which have continued to protect them.

Accordingly, in order to know the steps being taken or proposed to be taken by them in this regard, the Commission has issued notices to the Chief Secretaries of the Governments of Rajasthan and Haryana as well as the Secretary, Union Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate Change seeking their response in the matter within six weeks.

Reportedly, according to the experts, if the degradation of Aravali Hills, which acted as a green cover to check the extent of the desert from Western Rajasthan to Eastern parts, may cause its advancement and increased intensity of dust storms, which will affect the health of the people due to air pollution. The media reports have quoted the findings of studies conducted by the Wild Life Institute of India and the Amity School of Earth and Environmental Sciences as well as several other experts in this regard.

According to them, the Aravali range, extending over 690 km from Palampur in Gujarat to Delhi through Rajasthan and Haryana, has stood strong against the advancement of the Thar desert for more than three billion years. If its degradation is not checked, the day is not far when its desertification will badly affect a host of eco system services including rain, ground water level, checking temperature, trapping of dust and pollutants, habitat for hundreds of flora and fauna.

National Human Rights Commission

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