The national green tribunal on Monday told the Centre and the Delhi government to define forest and non-forest areas in the capital. The tribunal also ordered settlement of forest rights of locals within three months.
Following a summons from the tribunal, Delhi government's secretary (environment and forests) appeared before it on Monday.
He and the secretary of the Union urban
development ministry would submit a comprehensive report, clearly stating as to how constructions were being permitted in forest areas and what steps were being taken to ensure that no construction or non-forest activities were permitted in forest areas.
Following an HT report that highlighted that the forest department is awfully short of manpower and resources, the tribunal sought a report explaining whether sufficient number of forest guards, wildlife inspectors and other relevant posts are available to ensure protection of forest areas.
The report would be submitted by August 29 when the matter would be heard next. The tribunal also ordered immediate removal of debris from the ridge.
Environment activists say the Delhi government issued a notification of forest rights of locals in 1994 but corruption and politics kept a final notification stuck for 20 years, resulting in massive encroachment in the ridge area.
"A line was drawn but grey areas were not removed and non-forest activity continues in forest land. Through the notification, the government showed the intention to protect forests and because of non-settlement of rights the ridge has seen massive encroachment and become a debris dumping ground," said an activist.