Demolition Begins At Kant Enclave On SC Order
The demolition has begun in Kant Enclave on April 1 as ordered by the Supreme Court. The drive will continue on April 2 to demolish remaining structures on the land that was ruled out to be a part of protected Aravalli forest. The Department of Town and Country Planning of Haryana had served a demolition notice on March 28 to the residents and house owners of Kant Enclave- which the Supreme Court has declared illegal under the provisions of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900 in September 2018. Earlier, the Supreme Court has extended the deadline to vacate the houses till July 31 from March 31. However, only 13 homeowners came forward with an undertaking and have time till July, before their properties are razed.
The SC Bench extended the deadline after the counsel appearing for some of the homeowners urged that the time should be extended. However, the extension was subjected to the furnishing of an undertaking within four weeks starting from January 14. In case the house owners fail to file the undertaking, the already fixed time till March 31 would remain in force.
There are almost 284 residential plots, three commercial plots in Kant Enclave. Those holding plots here 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 was during the September hearing was quantified at Rs 50 lakh.
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.
The case history
The mission to save Aravalli from unauthorised construction has been long pending. It was in May last year when the Punjab and Haryana High Court had issued a notice to Centre to reply on banning construction in the Aravalli hills by defining it as a forest area. The construction of a slaughterhouse and a proposed road passing through the 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.