Court Orders Demolition Of Faridabad Township In Aravalli Forest
Terming the situation ‘frightening’, the Supreme Court (SC) has finally taken a step to prevent forest areas in Aravalli from further exploitation by directing the demolishment of all unauthorised constructions in the area, built after August 18, 1992. The apex court also lashed out at the Haryana government for allowing the builder to violate the 1992 notification and permitting construction activity in the area, harming the ecology of Aravalli.
What does the 1992 notification say?
The notification issued in 1992 under the provisions of the Punjab Land Preservation (PLP) Act had prohibited clearing or breaking up of land not ordinarily under cultivation. According to the notification, areas of northern Haryana along the Shiwalik hills which are prone to soil erosion due to water flow in the rugged and sloppy terrain and areas of southern and western Haryana which are prone to erosion both by air and water have been restricted for certain activities under this law.
A supreme court bench has also termed Kant Enclave in Faridabad illegal and impermissible by law and hence will be entirely demolished. The court has allowed residents to sue the builder and government for damages.
There are almost 284 residential plots, three commercial plots in the society. All the plot holders will get a refund of full amount along with 18 per cent interest rate. Apart from this, 33 houses have already been constructed along with one film studio for which construction cost has been quantified at Rs 50 lakh, to be paid by R Kant and Co. and Town and Country Planning Department of Haryana, before December 31. Also, Aravalli Rehabilitation fund will be formed with a corpus of Rs 5 crore to be paid by the builder before October 31.
The case history
The mission to save Aravalli from unauthorised construction has been long pending. It was in May this year, when Punjab and Haryana High Court issued a notice to Centre to reply on banning construction in Aravalli hills by defining it as a forest area. The construction of slaughter house and proposed road passing through Aravali range for which thousands of trees would require to be cut down, have given rise to protests by activists as the 1992 notification bans certain activities that cause environmental degradation.
While the Haryana and Central government are trying to clearly define the nature of the Aravalli, most revenue records mention the ranges as ‘gair mumkin pahad’ or ‘bhood’— land on which development activities can be carried out. Forest department officials say ‘gair mumkin pahad’ refers to areas where the topography does not permit cultivation and revenue generation. Generally, these categories are not accepted as forests and large sections are diverted for other activities. The confusion still persists over the forest status of Aravalli.