On SC order, demolition of Kant Enclave houses begins
Ten houses in Faridabad’s Kant Enclave, a 425-acre township bordering south Delhi, were demolished on Monday on the Supreme Court’s September 2018 order, which said the land on which they were built was part of the protected Aravalli forests.
A film studio owned by the developer of Kant Enclave and a site office were partially demolished in the drive that started at 8 am, officials said.
The Supreme Court had, on September 18, 2018, ordered demolition of the houses built illegally in Kant Enclave after 1992. The court had held that construction of the houses caused severe ecological damage to the ancient hills. According to the Supreme Court direction, the 42 structures on the 44 plots in Kant Enclave have to be either vacated or demolished to bring the land to its original state — that of a forest.
This order had come 33 years after R Kant and company got the licence to construct a film studio and residential complex in the area. The permission was subsequently withdrawn after the firm violated the contract. In 1992, it was again allowed construction after the firm agreed to respect the terms and conditions, said officials.
Of the 10 houses razed on Monday, five belonged to the developer, R Kant & Company, and were vacant. Five others had been vacated in time for the demolition by owners, who were given compensation. The three remaining houses also belong to the developer, officials of the department of town and country planning (DTCP) said.
Officials said the drive would continue on Tuesday as they have demolish 13 structures, a film studio n and a site office — the owners of which failed to give an undertaking that they would vacate by July 31, 2019.
Sanjeev Mann, senior town planner, Faridabad, said the court had fixed March 31 as the deadline for demolition. However, he said, after the residents sought relief, the court agreed to extend the deadline till July 31 on the condition that they submit an undertaking. “Of the 44 structures, owners of 24 gave an undertaking to vacate the premises in the Supreme Court. Later, seven others also gave an undertaking. So action was taken against 13 owners, who did not respond to court orders,” Mann said.
Residents of Kant Enclave and plot owners, however, opposed the demolition and termed it illegal. “This colony was given a licence by Haryana government and the plans were approved by the department of town and country planning,” said Brigadier (retd) MB Anand (VSM) and president of the residents’ welfare association.
Mann said it was for the first time that the court sought action against an approved colony. “Initially, licence was given for construction. Later, this land was notified under the Punjab Land Preservation Act following which the matter went to court. Then, development activities in Kant Enclave were stopped. Last September, the Supreme Court held that government must reinstate the forest,” he said.
Mann also said the DTCP has been asked to bear 50% of the compensation for issuing licence to the project. The remaining will be borne by the developer, he said.
KM Pandurang, director, DTCP, said they have taken the Supreme Court’s direction to a logical conclusion and implemented the order in letter and spirit. “The action shows that environment is of utmost importance to the government and no violation of forest norms will be allowed,” he said.
Environmentalists, meanwhile, said the government should realise Aravallis are the only remaining forest in south Haryana and need to be protected. “We hope the government will now withdraw the PLPA amendment bill, which is nothing but an attempt to repeal the act in urban areas. The Kant Enclave was floated on Aravalli shamlat commonland that was distributed to private interests by dubious revenue department orders which must be undone,” said Chetan Agarwal, an environmentalist.
Kant Enclave is spread across 425 acres, on which 1,600 plots were developed. A visit to the residential colony reveals a well developed network of roads, sewage system, green belts parks, electricity—albeit in an unkempt condition.
When contacted, promoter of the colony, however, declined to comment on the matter.