Haryana’s PLPA amendment: Cong MLA Kiran Choudhry asks CM to withdraw affidavit filed in SC

Published on Dec 06, 2021 10:43 PM IST

Former Haryana forests minister Kiran Choudhry has asked chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to withdraw the “contentious” affidavit filed in the Supreme Court whereby the state government has contended that about 39

Former Haryana forests minister Kiran Choudhry. (HT File)
Former Haryana forests minister Kiran Choudhry. (HT File)
By, Chandigarh

Former Haryana forests minister Kiran Choudhry has asked chief minister Manohar Lal Khattar to withdraw the “contentious” affidavit filed in the Supreme Court whereby the state government has contended that about 39.35% of total geographical spread of the state notified under Section 3 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA) will have to be reckoned as forest as per the SC order in the Kant Enclave case.

Citing a letter written to the CM on December 2, the Congress MLA from Tosham, at a press briefing on Monday said, the contention taken by the state government in the affidavit is an attempt to misconstrue the SC order by a cleverly crafted misrepresentation of the order in order to obfuscate the real issues.

She said the categorical stance taken by the state government in its earlier affidavits before the SC and the clear understanding of the court in this matter has been that only the land notified under Sections 4 and 5 of the PLPA are to be treated as forest area.

In such areas, commercial activities such as mining, construction, cattle pasturing, felling of trees are totally prohibited and precluded. Such lands comprise only 0.72% of the total area of the state, she claimed.

Choudhry said the recent affidavit filed by state government in the apex court in the Kant Enclave case has raised “disquieting concerns among activists and right-thinking citizens of Haryana”. The about turn done by the state government in the latest affidavit from its earlier stance taken in various affidavits filed before the SC is stunning.

“It has been perceived as an attempt by the environmentalist in state as a subterfuge to provide license to land and mining mafia and unscrupulous colonisers to continue their commercial activities unabated,” the Congress leader said,

Choudhry said, “The CM can save his government a huge embarrassment by withdrawing the contentious affidavit filed in the SC and revisiting the insidious amendments made in the PLPA.”

The former minister said hilly tracks of the Aravallis in the south west and Shivaliks in northern Haryana have evolved an ecosystem over thousands of years. To preserve this ecology, the PLPA legislation of the British vintage was enacted. The amendments in the PLPA made on February 27, 2019 have been stated by the SC on March 1, 2019.

The impugned amendments aimed at giving sweeping powers to the state government to amend or assign any notification or order under the PLPA and exclude all lands notified under HUDA and municipal schemes or lands in infrastructure schemes from the purview of the PLPA, she said.

“It anguishes me that the state government that uses zero-tolerance for corruption as a talisman has sought to aid and abet the unbridled deforestation and obnoxious commercial activities by colonisers and mining barons in Aravallis and Shivalik ranges first by diluting the provisions of the PLPA and now by filing an affidavit in the SC which negated its earlier stand,” Choudhry said.

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