People with houses and commercial establishments on notified forest land in Faridabad’s Aravalli Hill have had sleepless nights since the Supreme Court-recommended Central Empowered Committee (CEC) suggested demolishing these structures.
But the forest department said the owners knew of the consequences as they had been served notices for violating forest protection laws for the last two-three years and had been prosecuted in Faridabad’s environment court. The Supreme Court, in 1996, had declared the entire area on Aravalli Hills in Gurgaon, including Faridabad, was under provisions of the Forest Conservation Act of 1980 and no activity other than farming was allowed.
Faridabad deputy conservator of forests B. Raman said about 1,500 acres of land at Aravalli Hills in Faridabad was notified under section 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) from time to time while the Forest Conservation Act was applicable on a total of 2,000 acres.
“Our department has been sending notices to individuals as well as owners of commercial establishments and have even dragged them to the environment court. As many as 70 cases have been filed in this court during this time,” Raman said.
Panic prevails among the residents. Jaswinder Singh, who built a house in Faridabad’s Kant Enclave in 2005 said: “We should not face such a fate as we have all clearances from the town and country planning department.”
The residents, however, admitted the forest department had issued them notices for violating the PLPA and forestry act and they had approached the Supreme Court for relief. “The only relief we have is that the CEC has only recommended the demolition and the apex court has not issued any ruling on that so far,” said resident Vipin Behl, a retired government official.
“I can only hope the apex court will act in favour of the people who have invested their life’s savings in their houses,” Ashok Batra, a resident of Sector 44, said.
The forest department has recommended the CEC notify the 4,500 acres of land as a national park. CEC member R.P. Balwan, also the conservator of forests Gurgaon Range told HT: “We have suggested the Aravalli Hills be protected by the fences or walls and the area be declared a national park. We need to acquire the land for the purpose.”