The forest department does not have any information on any form of construction, unauthorised or authorised, and encroachments in the notified ridge area, an RTI query has revealed.
Experts say this gap in information can be damaging for the protection of the ridge biodiversity and environment in general.
It also raises questions on the claims by the forest department of not issuing no-objection certificates for the regularisation of several colonies.
Activists Mannish Bhatnagar had sought to know under the Right to Information Act the complete list and details of unauthorised construction or activity in the protected morphological ridge and also details of authorised construction permitted in the same area.
He had also asked for details of prohibited activities in the protected ridge.
No information with forest department
"Information is not available," was the reply from the three range offices — northern, southern and western range — of the forest department.
"The big question is how has the forest department objected to the regularisation process for these colonies when it does not have any record? This is clearly cheating lakhs of Delhiites living in these unauthorised colonies," Bhatnagar said.
The Delhi government has already issued notification to regularise 895 colonies out of 1,639 awaiting a legal tag. There are 150-odd unauthorised colonies located on forest land awaiting regularisation.
Said RK Srivastava, secretary, Delhi urban development department: "The forest department had not given us any information about the colonies on the forest or the ridge area. They have been directed to take up demarcation using the total station method."
"Only after we get the report stating which colonies are beyond the notified ridge and the forest areas, then we will consider them for regularisation," he said.
Forest department defends
Forest department officials said: "The forest settlement officers are still in the process of finalising boundaries. It is not that we don't have the data, but it is not in the shape and form the RTI applicant wanted."
The forest department has preliminary information on a "possible boundary" for the notified ridge.
"Once this is final, we will call objections and settle claims," sources said, adding: "A fire had damaged our records and our GIS cell is not functional yet."
"The task of finalisation of the boundaries will be completed soon," assured AK Shukla, principal chief conservator of forests.
Farmers’ body takes Ridge issue to apex court panel
new delhi: A federation of Delhi farmers has taken the issue of degradation of the ridge environment because of encroachments and construction at the South-Central ridge to a Supreme Court-appointed committee.
"Over 102 bigha land belonging to the Gram Sabha on the South-Central ridge has been allotted to several paramilitary agencies under the home ministry for offices and residential accommodation. Despite the Delhi High Court and Supreme Court specifically banning all construction activity on the ridge, official agencies and various government departments continue to steadily nibble at the ridge," the Kissan Mahasangh said in a petition to a Supreme Court-appointed committee comprising Bhure Lal and KJ Rao.
Mahasangh co-convener Col Devinder Sehrawat met Lal and Rao during their recent visit to Mahipalpur.
Bhure Lal told Hindustan Times: "A 27-bigha water body too has been encroached. We have asked the Delhi Development Authority to look into the complaints.”