There was a time the nation's apex court was respected and feared. If it passed an order, everyone, from top to bottom would fall in line to adhere, in letter and spirit. The government in Haryana seems not to worry about it though.
The Aravalis, which are among the oldest mountain ranges in the world, are being ravaged and raped. The apathetic administration is choosing to look the other way, by either pretending not to know, or by being completely cahoots with the corrupt politico-businessmen nexus. All this, despite there being a ban on any such activity in the region by the nation's Supreme Court.
As the series of these pictures that follow show, developers and land-grabbers and illegal miners are running riot in the hills in the Gurgaon-Faridabad belt.
We have been cycling in these hills for years. We often stop and engage with the locals and villagers and tell them about the need to ensure their surroundings are not ravaged. So much so that once, when some ATV users ran riot in the area, the villagers came complaining to us and thereafter blocked all possible trails that could take motorized vehicles. But that seems like a long-long time ago.
The trails we rode on were not even frequented by walkers, as it was strewn with thorns and rocks. Imagine our shock when one fine morning, just ten days ago, when we reach there to find a proper, wide track that can take not just a SUV, but any 4 wheeler. And mind you, the entire track is NOT next to a road, it is at least 10km into the hills. You can check the exact location of this rape on this GPS link (https://connect.garmin.com/activity/702304842). The road ends at the 9km mark and this illegal rape continues to the 21km mark. How could heavy machines, that are noisy as hell, be used surreptitiously without the knowledge of the authorities?
Let us allow the pictures to do the talking from here on.
This majestic banyan tree, and there are a few around, that have withstood man's onslaught for centuries. But how much longer?
Although, the Banyan tree remains, mercifully, hundreds of smaller trees have been uprooted. The pictures can't capture the scale of destruction.
As can be seen, bulldozers have been used to carve out a path where none existed.
The wide path that has come up, almost overnight.
You can see fresh excavation marks on the rocks, which can only be made possible using heavy machinery.
This was once mined till the apex court put an end to it. While nature has regenerated itself, the current rape takes place adjacent to it.
If all this doesn't shock you, wonder what else will. How can anyone's greed be so great that they would allow this? I have written about the rape of the Aravalis in the past too – The Rape of the Aravalis: A photo blog, in August, 2009 and Rape of the Aravalis: Photo blog 2, in November, 2009.
After that, there seemed to be a halt in these activities save a few low level activities that nature is capable of taking care of by itself. But the scale of destruction we noticed this time is unimaginable.
We had always known that illegal activities have been taking place in this region despite the apex court's ban. In fact, in July last year, we had done a story about it – Ban fails to stop illegal mining in Aravalis . But then, there was some surreptitiousness about it. It is now brazen.
Does the National Green Tribunal know about it? Should not the Supreme Court catch these crooks by their, you know what, and haul them over fire for contempt of court?
The least we all can and must do is to raise our voices. Share this as widely as possible. Make yourselves heard. If you are witnessing similar rapes in your areas, share them here. Show that you care for your environment. It already is too late, but that can't be an excuse to let it get worse.
DISCLAIMER : Views expressed above are the author's own.