Haryana's economic development also has another story to it. The mushrooming of industries, along with the construction of high-rise buildings either for commercial or residential purposes, has led to a large scale deforestation in the state. Such gross deforestation not only imbalances the environmental stability within the state, but also outside the state. What are the consequences of such alarming rate at which trees are being cut down in Haryana?
Firstly, excessive demands for urbanisation coupled with the introduction of the latest technological advancements have led to the thinning of forests in the industrially-rich districts of Haryana such as Gurgaon, Faridabad and Rohtak. As pointed out in the Forest Survey of India Report of 2011, the open forest cover in Haryana has reduced from 0.03% in 2000, to 0.01% in 2004, and even less in the following decade. This unrestrained deforestation, first of all, reduces the amount of rainfall in the state during the monsoon. As a result of this, as hydrologist Sanjiv Chadha of the Department of Agriculture has pointed out, the groundwater level in Haryana is fast depleting. In the past 12 years, the substantial fall in groundwater level has been noted to be as critical as 7.29 metres. Such pathetic levels of groundwater depletion adversely impacts agricultural prospects in Haryana, as farmers do not find sufficient water for irrigating their fields. Due to uncontrolled levels of deforestation, which hinders the process of rainwater storage, Haryana, whose subsistence depends on a strong agrarian economy, has witnessed sharp falls in the annual production of crops such as cotton, bajra, basmati rice and paddy.
Secondly, the rising levels of air pollution in Haryana cannot be arrested, as trees are being cut down in enormous numbers. The harmful elements released in the air, thanks to escalating number of vehicles on the road, cannot be absorbed by the trees, which are being cut down. Due to this, Haryana, in the last decade, has been reported to have abnormal levels of pollution.
Because of the grave ecological disturbance in nature, more and more people in Haryana, especially in cities like Gurgaon, Rohtak and Manesar, are complaining of chronic diseases like asthma, bronchitis and other lung diseases. Cutting down trees in large numbers is harmful for human health, as the average level of oxygen in the air is scarce, and a large number of people are succumbing to air-borne health problems in general and oxygen-deficiency problems in particular.
While Naya Haryana dreams to achieve sustainable growth and development in the state by investing in more capitalist entrepreneurships, government and non-government organisations must ensure that deforestation is distinctly reduced in the state, and enhanced afforestation policies are introduced, so that the ecological balance can be restored. In other words, it is the role of the administrative branches to prevent the merciless cutting down of trees for urbanisation projects, making of bridges and roads etc, at the cost of human and animal lives.
On a final note, awareness among the citizens of Haryana is mandatory, if such rampant deforestation is to be controlled. People must be made aware of the importance of trees and forests in Haryana, not only for the ecological balance, but also to prevent alteration in distinct socio-economic parameters like migration to other states, relative dependence on agriculture for sustenance, change in settlement patterns etc. A green Haryana with abundance of forests is the Naya Haryana that we envision.