The National Green Tribunal on Wednesday ordered an interim stay on a road proposed to be constructed in the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary in Delhi’s southern Ridge.
The order came after Hindustan Times on August 19 published a report headlined “Troubled road ahead for Delhi’s lone sanctuary” and exposed the public works department of the Delhi government that wanted to build the road.
No construction can take place inside a wildlife sanctuary without permission from the national board for wildlife, headed by the prime minister.
“The Delhi government must state whether any road is proposed in the sanctuary. If that is so, they will not do any construction in that area till the next date of hearing (September 30),” the tribunal said.
Senior lawyer Raj Panjwani brought the HT report to the notice of the tribunal and said, “Instead of implementing a Supreme Court order by persuading illegal occupants in the sanctuary to move out, as provisions have already made for their rehabilitation, the government is building roads for them.”
Panjwani is assisting the tribunal as amicus curiae in matters related to the ridge.
The PWD in May sought to build the road but the forest department rejected the proposal.
“It’s a 12-km and 10-feet road and had always been there. That’s the only way for residents of Sanjay Colony to get out and move towards Chhatarpur. We’re only maintaining it,” PWD executive engineer Jai Singh told HT recently. “The budget for the project is R15 crore and work on a 10-km stretch is complete. The remaining 2 km needs to be done,” he said.
Sanjay Colony, an entire village of 25,000 people, lives illegally in the sanctuary. After a Supreme Court order, the government shifted two smaller colonies from the sanctuary in 2006. But the illegal occupants of Sanjay Colony have not been shifted yet.