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Innocent Admission

No farmhouses or any unauthorised structures on Aravali forest land: SC

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New Delhi, Aug 3, 2021 – The Supreme Court on Tuesday reiterated that all illegal structures, including farmhouses, on Aravalli forest land would have to go while hearing a plea by Haryana’s Faridabad Municipal Corporation in connection with demolition of residential constructions, which had come up in the forest area near Lakkarpur-Khori village.

Senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, representing the village residents, submitted before the top court that the land on which the civic body carried out demolition of residential house falls under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) and there are large number of farmhouses, should be treated as deemed forest under the act, and therefore, they should also be removed.

He added that process to remove them must also start.

At this, the bench headed by Justice A.M. Khanwilkar said: “Yes, yes, all those should also go. Our order very clear, all unauthorised illegal structures will have to go.”

Haryana government counsel informed the court that a new rehabilitation policy has been drafted and sought 2-3 weeks’ time to finalise the policy.

The bench also comprising Justice Dinesh Maheshwari observed that those who are eligible under the policy are likely to be rehabilitated.

As Parikh submitted that policy has laid down certain conditions which are difficult to comply, the bench said the authorities will take the final decision and that decision can be challenged. “The justness of the policy can be tested,” it added.

Parikh added: “The state is completely washing of its hands. At present the people are facing difficulties with the temporary shelter.”

He pressed for directions to appoint an independent person to look into the condition of the people living there.

A lawyer in the matter said people, whose houses have been demolished, have made representation to the commissioner and they have been asked to go to either Radha Soami Satsang premises or Red Cross.

“Something should be done by the state. There are lactating mothers and children there. Temporary arrangement should be made,” submitted the lawyer representing the petitioners.

The municipal corporation counsel submitted that arrangements like beds, toilets and food have already been made available.

“Almost 50 per cent population there was staying on rent, and they have gone from there. Most of them have migrated,” counsel added.

The top court said to address the grievance of the locals, the Commissioner may consider setting up extended office in the Radha Swamy complex where these persons have been provided full shelter & accommodation. It added that the status report about the steps taken to be submitted to it.

The top court, after hearing the arguments, posted the matter for further hearing on August 25.

On July 23, the top court had granted four more weeks to the municipal corporation to remove encroachments on forest land. The municipal corporation had submitted that unauthorised structures on nearly half of the total 150-acre area has been cleared.

The top court on June 7 had directed state of Haryana and Faridabad Municipal Corporation to remove “all encroachments”, consisting around 10,000 residential constructions, on Aravali forest area.  (Agency)

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