No illegal buildings in Faridabad Aravalis razed despite SC order

GURUGRAM: The forest department is yet to demolish illegal structures in the Aravalis, over
eight months after the Supreme Court (SC) ordered that the protected forest area in
four Faridabad villages be cleared and restored.
The government sought a four-month extension for the exercise, which expired in February.
Three committees were set up and notices issued to the encroachers in October last year, but
the demolitions are yet to be carried out.
The SC on July 21 last year ruled that land notified under Section 4 (special orders) of
the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1990, should be treated as forests, where provisions of the
Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, would be applicable. Areas in
Faridabad’s Anangpur, Ankhir, Lakkarpur and Mewla Maharajpur villages have land notifiedunder this section.

“Before the removal of the illegal structures and stopping non-forest activities is taken in respect
of the lands covered by the special orders of August 18, 1992 issued under Section 4 of PLPA,
the competent authority shall afford an opportunity of being heard to the affected persons and
conclude such proceedings finally not later than three months from today and submit
compliance report in that regard within the same time,” the order had stated.
According to the order, the Haryana government was supposed to submit a compliance report
by October 21. It later sought four months’ extension and was granted time till February 21,
2023. The report is yet to be filed.
When contacted, a forest official told TOI that they have gathered data and have carried out
drone mapping as well. “We have sent out notices and carried out mapping of the illegal
structures and have submitted it to the higher authorities,” the official said.
A ground truthing exercise conducted by the state government in December found 6,793
unauthorised structures built on protected land in the four villages. The exercise found 5,948
unauthorised structures in Anangpur village alone, while 339 such structures were found in
Ankhir, 313 in Lakkarpur and 193 in Mewla Maharajpur. Most of these structures are
farmhouses and banquet halls.

Meanwhile, environmentalists alleged that the government took quick action in demolishing poor
people’s homes in Faridabad’s Khori, but not when it comes to acting against the affluent class.
“Khori demolition had a high human cost — dislocation of tens of thousands of poor families. In
comparison, few families will be affected by razing illegal banquet halls and farmhouses,” said
Chetan Agarwal, a forest analyst.
“Over 6,000 homes were demolished in Khori by the state government on SC orders in a few
monsoon months in 2021. But despite orders of the same apex court in July 2022, a few
hundred farmhouses running commercial activities have not been touched in the last eight
months,” said Lt Col SS Oberoi (retd), an environmentalist.
Haryana additional chief secretary (forest and wildlife) Vineet Garg could not be contacted by
TOI despite several attempts.

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