Aravallis one of the Oldest Mountain Range
The Aravallis are the witness of the evolution of not only the Indian subcontinent but also the whole world in its present form. The Aravalli ranges are the oldest mountain ranges of India and one of the world’s. It is estimated that it took 2 billion years for these ranges to be formed.
Stretching from Palanpur in Gujarat to Majnu ka Tila in Delhi these ranges have acted as a preventive barrier for all of the northern plains from harsh winds of Thar.
Aravallis used to be at some point in geological past as high as the Himalayas but they have been eroded considering the large period of time exposed to weathering. Guru Shikhar, with 1722m of elevation is the highest peak of Aravallis.
Aravalli provided the platform for Ecological, Cultural, Economic, Historic, Geologic Evolution
Aravallis though majorly ignored play crucial roles in all spheres of life – ecological, cultural, economic, historic, geologic and so on. Multicellular life first triggered around Aravallis.
The Malani volcanic activity, which took place when Earth was a ‘snowball’ increased the temperatures so that life can evolve.
Aravallis, Home to a wide variety of Wildlife, Indigenous Plants
These not-so-continuous ranges are home to a wide variety of wildlife, indigenous plants apart from the resources which attract the greed of humans. Leopards, jackals, hyenas, nilgai, civet cats, etc. are found here. Golden jackal and striped hyenas are of much significance.
Aravallis are also abode for many birds – migratory and indigenous. Trees like Babul, Dhak, Katha are common. The meagre areas of forests are where these species mostly reside.
Aravallis act as a Water Divide
Moreover, the Aravallis act as a water divide such that many rivers flow from both the eastern and western sides of it.
The rock structure comprising sandstones, granite, gneiss with fractures and cracks help in the percolation of water, which in turn increases the underground water table.
The National Capital Region owes its underground water supplies to Aravallis. The remaining forest cover of Aravallis is called the lungs of Delhi, it helps in clearing the air pollution in Delhi to some extent.
The cultural and historic value added by Aravallis can be witnessed in the grandeur of Forts and Palaces built on its hills. Mehrangarh fort being one. Raisina hill gets its name from here too.
Lot of historic temples have been built on Aravallis Brahma Temple at Pushkar and several cultures born around it.
Aravallis are a Storehouse of Mineral Resources
Aravallis are a storehouse of mineral resources. Humans have extracted these since the fifth millennium BC. The copper mines here are believed to be the sources of copper in early settlements such as Kalibangan, Mohenjo Daro. Lead, zinc, quartzite, limestone, marble attract mining activities in Aravallis.
Illegal mining activities in Aravallis are a serious issue, which is responsible for completely destroying forest cover and even flattening the hills. A live example is Makrana area.
In this process hundreds of indigenous species have been lost. Abandoning the mining area, leaving large pits have resulted in imbalance in water tables and creation of numerous lakes.
Construction material such as red badarpur sand is extracted till the death of the ecologically sensitive surrounding environment. Since it is found at great depth, almost near the water table, underground water comes up at the surface, often getting contaminated.
Government policies to be framed to save Aravallis
Government policies, whatever made, show a have been ineffective. All tactics like redefining the definition of hill have been incorporated to continue mining.
According to a 2018 Report by the Central Empowered Committee, 31 hills in the last 50 years have been completely flattened.
If proper measures are not taken immediately, the face of Aravallis will be completely changed for bad and a loss to humanity.
Therefore, it is of utmost importance that restoration measures are incorporated.
Restoration will require a comprehensive strategy with a multi-pronged approach because it requires attention on many fronts – land degradation, deforestation, water conservation (underground and surface), wildlife conservation, sustainable mining, and even waste management. Local people must be involved in any plan to be devised.
They should be made active participants in afforestation, reforestation, water conservation as well as rehabilitation.
This can be done through community forestry. Dumping of waste can be stopped by planning efficient waste management systems. Since, mining cannot be completely banned, re-grassing a piece of land after mining must be practiced as per Supreme court’s ruling.
Moreover such conditions can be included in mining leases. Strict compliance must be ensured by the administration. Coronavirus pandemic has again emphasised on the importance of forests for isolating deadly viruses in forests itself.
Lastly, the Central Government must include Aravallis in its plan to restore 5 million acres of degraded land which was talked about in the UN Summit last August and also analyse the impact the new EIA Draft will have on the already ignored Aravallis.
The ignored Abode- Aravallis
Author:- Suramya Sharma
Aravallis : The Ignored Abode
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