How Encroachment Of Public Land Is Affecting You
In a recent ruling, Delhi High Court has said State is the absolute owner of its land even if it has not taken its possession. The verdict was in response to a plea filed claiming that the land on which his house was built was never in possession of the government and he had become the owner of the land by purchasing it from another person. This is one of the thousand cases pending with the judiciary that deals with illegal squatters on the state’s land. While the court has time and again maintained its status quo that encroachers cannot be allowed to seek regularisation of colonies on such public land, the pleas for consideration never stops coming.
The court said if such an argument is allowed, it "would amount to giving licence by courts to persons to go and occupy government lands which are owned by the government and thereafter make a colony and seeks its regularisation in terms of the 2008 policy."
In another instance, the Delhi High Court had also set up the panel for the physical inspection of the properties which in its report said that 30 per cent of the population of Delhi was living in sub-human condition and 10 per cent completely in inhuman conditions due to such construction.
The Hanuman Mandir in Karol Bagh, which is one of the most congested areas of Delhi during peak hours, is another case of land grabbing where illegal squatters have encroached the footpath and pavement. The Delhi High Court has given the investigation charges to CBI, enquiring how the public land has been used to build 108 ft religious structure with no civic authority notice and no property tax is paid to the corporation since the time of its inception.
Encroaching forest land
Illegal squatting is prevalent on forest land as well. According to a government official data, around 50,000 acre forest land in Jammu and Kashmir was under encroachment while around 19,500 acres have been retrieved by the state government. Apart from this, Madhya Pradesh, Assam, Karnataka and Odisha have the largest stretches of encroached forest lands, followed by Maharashtra.
In fact, encroachers have taken over 670 sq km- more than the area of Greater Mumbai, which is 603 sq km in Maharashtra. Most cases of forest encroachment in the state were reported from Mumbai Metropolitan Region in Thane region.
Environmentalists said that encroachments result in loss of protected spaces and wildlife habitats, forest corridors, that animals use to move from one forest area to another. Encroachments around rivers affect the river flow for years.
Consequently, the conversion of forests to farms and other uses leads to biodiversity loss and man-animal conflicts, thereby altering the natural balance.
Fining squatters to be a deterrent?
The Noida Authority has increased the fine amount by three to four times from what was being charged till now to overcome the problem of encroachments on busy roads and footpaths in the city. Now Anyone aiding in encroachment of public land will be fined Rs 50,000 by Noida Authority.
In Mumbai, where human settlements are closing in on the Sanjay Gandhi National Park, work is underway to create a boundary wall around the forest. Similar plans have been devised for forest areas around Pune and Nagpur. This will also control the proliferation of religious shrines that become footholds for illegal settlements.
Earlier, Delhi HC had ordered the cops to take action and lodge FIR against the violators for every inch of encroachment on public land in the city. The same bench has also directed the municipal corporations of Delhi to put the encroachments and deviations made in the site plans of the buildings on their websites. The decision was made in regard to several PILs, alleging presence of illegal constructions across Delhi. These petitions have also sought to register case against the officials of the corporations who had allegedly allowed such construction despite a demolition order against them.
Similar orders were given by the Maharashtra revenue department that can be dated back to 2013 to all the state bodies that are custodians of public land to file a first information report (FIR) with the local police against the violators keeping in mind the slum regularizing policies.
With inputs from Housing News