Students from all over the National Capital Region (NCR) on 13 and 14 September 2022 gathered at the Haryana Bhavan in Delhi and the Union Ministry of Housing and Urban Affairs to voice their concerns over the NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041.
More than 100 students participated in the event and gathered approximately 10,000 signatures from fellow students and teachers from four different states – Haryana, Delhi, Uttar Pradesh, and Rajasthan.
What Is the NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041?
The The NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041 was proposed by the National Capital Region Planning Board (NCRPB). The plan was developed to ensure concerted efforts to improve connectivity. It also defines 'Natural Zones' as areas with geographical features like mountains, rivers, lakes, etc.
The goal of this plan is 'the future development' of the National Capital Region according to the government. The plan intends to develop "citizen-centric" infrastructure which is "harmonious, environment friendly, and smart-digital technology-driven towards building an economically prosperous region, in tune with attainment of (UN's) Sustainable Development Goals."
The biggest concern regarding the plan is the exclusion of Aravalli mountain range and tributaries of the Ganga and Yamuna rivers from the list of Natural Conservation Zones.
'We Request You to Save Our Aravallis and Along With It Our Future'
The students congregated to voice their issues with the environmental and ecological dilutions in the NCR Draft Plan 2041. They said this fight is for their future.
"Why has the NCR Draft Plan 2041 dropped the target ‘total forest cover proposed to be 10% of the total area of the region’ of the NCR Regional Plan 2021 when we live in one of the most polluted areas in the world? Climate action demands an exponential increase in afforestation efforts by the government.”Chahat Sikka, Grade 8 student, Pragati Public School, Delhi
A few of the student representatives also met Hardeep Singh Puri, India's Union Minister for Housing and Urban Affairs, to voice their concerns.
In a tweet, the minister said he had an engaging conversation with the students.
“We discussed our concerns regarding the environmental dilutions in the NCR Draft Plan 2041 with all the government authorities we met today and yesterday. The Minister of Housing and Urban Affairs, Hardeep Singh Puri, told us that he will invite us for a stakeholder discussion to represent the voice of the students. We hope that the minister lives up to the promise he has made us.Mahi, Grade 9 student, Pathways school, Gurugram
The students also demanded that the Aravalli mountain range be included in the list of Natural Conservation Zones due to the constant threat of ecological exploitation that it is under. Students and teachers from all over the four states sent in letters addressed to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, and Housing & Urban Affairs Minister Puri.
In one of the letters addressed to the authorities, students said, "As young citizens living in India’s National Capital Region, we request you to save our Aravallis and along with it our future by removing the environment related dilutions in the NCR Draft Regional Plan 2041."
"The terms ‘Aravallis’, ‘Forest Areas’, ‘Natural Conservation Zone’ must all be kept in the new NCR Draft Plan 2041. We recommend getting environmental experts and ecologists on board to strengthen the NCR Regional Plan 2041 from an environmental and ecological point of view to ensure more protection to our natural ecosystems so that quality of life for the present and future generations of India’s National Capital Region improves," the letter stated.