Acting on complaints from civic societies over the encroachment within five kilometers of the Sultanpur National Park, a team from the Directorate of Town and Country Planning (DTCP) department conducted a survey of the area on Thursday. The encroachment despite a ban on any non-forest activity in and around the park has evoked concern.
The team will assess the extent of encroachment in the area in order to have all illegal construction razed and settlers removed. The action followed a flood of complaints from residents and activists.
“We received several complaints about encroachment and conducted a survey of the area. We first need to assess if there are any illegal settlers on our land. If so, we will act against them,” Ravinder Sharma, officer, enforcement, DTPC, said.
Earlier, in 2014, the Wildlife Survey of India conducted a survey to determine if the protected national park area had been encroached upon and recorded as many as 300 violations. However, no action was taken to clear the encroachment.
Environment activists claimed that illegal settlements impede the sighting of birds in the region.
Vivek Kamboj, founder of Haryali, an NGO, said, “Many letters have been written to forest and DTCP department over illegal construction and settlers within the 500 metre radius of the national park. This is a clear violation of the law. Over the last three days, the civic bodies have taken no action against the illegal settlers.”
Speaking to HT, the forest officials confirmed that some violations have been drawn to their notice over the past few months and they directed the senior town planner to remove all illegal construction in the area.
The illegal construction marks a violation of the notification issued by the Union ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) forbidding non-forest activities in the eco-sensitive zone.
The notification clearly states that any construction other than a tube well chamber of size not more than1,000 cubic inches in the area falling within 300 meters of the boundary of Sultanpur National Park should be banned and also there will be no exemption for any prefabricated structures or those erected for agriculture purposes.
“We have already informed the DTCP that we are ready to provide any support (to clear encroachment) if needed,” a forest officer said.