If your building stands on forest land, you must ensure that afforestation charges have been paid to prevent the structure from being deemed illegal.
A Supreme Court bench, comprising Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan and Justices Deepak Verma and B S Chauhan, on Janaury 25 issued an interim order allowing residential and commercial developers to construct on forest land. However, residents of such structures can benefit from the order only after the payment of afforestation fees.
Although the SC order is limited to the petitioners and those who have already paid the afforestation charges, Hill Side Residents Welfare Association (HIRWA), a public help group has been involved with encouraging residents staying in buildings built on forest land - deemed illegal by a Bombay High Court judgement - to pay afforestation fees before the final judgment. There are 395 residential societies that have paid afforestation charges.
“Before the final judgment comes people should come forward and pay their afforestation fees. People who are not part of the petition should also approach the court to get relief. We will help them in all possible ways,” HIRWAs convenor, Prakash Padikkal, said.
In March 2008, the Bombay High Court termed lakhs of homes built on forest land in Thane, Mulund, Borivali and Kandivali, illegal and passed an order to demolish them.
Some of the residents took the matter to the Supreme Court, which invited recommendations of the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on the issue.
The CEC recommended that such land be normalized after payment of a nominal afforestation fee.
Afforestation fees ranges between Rs 6 and Rs 600 per sq ft depending on the when the flats were built.