Jungle safari to come up on notified Aravalli land in Gurugram, Nuh

The Haryana government’s proposed jungle safari on about 3,858 hectares (about 9,533 acres) in the Aravallis in Gurugram and Nuh districts will come up on land protected under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) and tracts that are part of the Aravalli plantation project.

Chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar and Union minister for environment, forest and climate change Bhupender Yadav on Wednesday took off for a two-day visit to the United Arab Emirates to take a look at the Sharjah Safari park, which is spread over about 800 hectares and houses 120 wildlife species.

Officials said if implemented, the Aravalli Safari project would be the largest of its kind — man-made safari park — in the world. “The Aravalli Safari Park will help conserve biodiversity of the Aravallis by harboring and preserving the natural heritage of the area, including the flora and fauna, besides providing a wide range of ecological services,” said a senior government official, asking not to be named .

Haryana forest officials said the proposed area to be undertaken as Aravalli conservation zone, the safari being a part of it, is a contiguous patch of land in the Aravallis, which have degraded green cover due to development activities and human interference.

The landscape of the sites selected is undulating in nature with varying soil depth, poor moisture retention and prone to water stress.

“Primarily, the PLPA notified areas of Sakatpur, Gairatpur Bas and Shikohpur villages in Gurugram are proposed for the development of Aravalli conservation zone. However, adjacent patches of forest areas may also be included to make large and contiguous forest conservation zone,”a forest official said, asking not to be named.

“These forest patches include Bhondsi cluster in Gurugram comprising Bhondsi, Ghamroj, Alipur, Tikli and Aklimpur, Naurangpur and Bar Gujjar villages in Gurugram and Mewat cluster comprising Kota Khandewla, Gangani, MohamadpurAhir, Kharak, Jalalpur, Bhango and Chalka villages in Nuh forest division ,” he said.

The PLPA notified area under private ownership though will be kept out of the proposed area, officials said.

Central Zoo Authority conducted feasibility study

Officials said the Central Zoo Authority (CZA) officials who had visited the sites of the proposed safari park in Gurugram and Nuh to assess the feasibility of the project noted that there is adequate land of appropriate quality; there is scope for raising tree belts of adequate width to act as buffer against noise and air pollution; there is motorable access to the selected sites; and there is possibility for obtaining potable water to the site through the pipeline supplying water to Gurugram.

According to the CZA guidelines, carnivore safaris should have a minimum area of ​​20 hectares whereas herbivorous safaris should have a minimum of 30 hectares.

“Possible species that could comprise the collection included herbivores adapted to the arid regions such as gazelles, antelopes, deer and carnivores such as leopard, and hyenas that are native to the region,” a tourism official said, asking not to be named.

Panel under central environment ministry official to steer the project

The Central government has set up a committee under the chairmanship of SP Yadav, additional director general of forests (Project Tiger), Union environment ministry, to steer the safari project.

Haryana tourism officials, the nodal agency for the implementation of the project, said drone imaging of the Gurugram portion has been completed and a GIS map of the entire area has been prepared and the process of preparation of a digital elevation model with one metre contour levels is under way. The deputy commissioners of Gurugram and Nuh would start the process of demarcation of the area with the help of the forest department.

An expression of interest was invited by Haryana tourism for development of conceptual design for a detailed master plan on the Aravalli Safari Park. “Two companies, Tagbin and Aegis, have qualified and were shortlisted,” an official said, adding that an Aravalli Foundation will be established to act as a special purpose vehicle for managing the safari project.

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