629 hectares of Delhi’s forest land encroached on:RTIUpdated: Sep 27, 2019 21:46 IST
New Delhi: Nearly 600 hectares of Delhi’s forest land is encroached upon, a response to a Right to Information (RTI) application has revealed.
Responding to the plea, filed by environment activist Akash Vashishtha, the Union ministry of environment, forest and climate change said of the 7,777 hectares of forest land in the national capital, 629 hectares were encroached upon.
In an ongoing matter before the National Green Tribunal (NGT), the Delhi government had accepted that there was rampant encroachment on the city’s forest land, especially in south Delhi.
The Delhi government’s forest department officials Friday said encroachment removal drives in notified forest areas are conducted fortnightly.
“Most of the encroachments are concrete structures, including buildings of farmhouses, which are demolished after issuing notices to illegal occupants. Only this week, a structure was demolished near Rajokri and in Asola Village,” a senior forest official said.
The NGT has directed the department to take possession of all notified forest land that has been encroached upon.
The subdivisional magistrate (SDM) of Mehrauli, in a status report submitted before the NGT bench in July, said the removal of encroachments from forest land was to begin in August 2017, but the government was finding it difficult to carry out the drive as nearly 3,000 people are occupying these illegally built structures.
In a 2015 order, the NGT directed authorities to ensure removal of encroachments from forest land. It also directed officials to curb illegal and non-forest activities in the area.
Prabhakar Rao, a member of Kalpavriksha Environment Action Group, and an expert on urban forests, said “difficulty” in tackling encroachment is not an excuse for inaction.
“Encroachment is surely a difficult problem, but the government cannot wash their hand off the problem saying it is difficult. Encroachments on forest land are growing every day. If anyone was to come and squat in your house, will you not act against it?” Rao said.
First Published: Sep 27, 2019 21:46 IST