Aravallis to be restored at Kant Enclave siteUpdated: Feb 13, 2020 22:53 IST
The forest department has tabled plans to restore 425 acres of native Aravalli forests in Faridabad’s Kant Enclave, which the Supreme Court, in 2018, had ruled to have been built illegally on forest land. While the 42 structures on the enclave’s residential plots were razed last October, the apex court had also mandated that the forest be restored.
Forest department officials confirmed that a plan for the same has been submitted to the state government. If approved, the work to restore the forest at the erstwhile Kant Enclave is likely to commence next monsoon.
D Hembram, the conservator of forests, Gurugram, said on Thursday, “Just last week, we have sent the state government a proposal for restoring green cover, which was lost due to the construction work. We are waiting for approval. It is only a proposal at this stage.” Hembram declined to provide further details.
A senior forest department official who is privy to the issue said, “We estimate that the restoration work will take about five years, which is the usual time frame for large-scale plantations. In the first year, we will establish nurseries at the Kant Enclave site, where sapling of native trees will be bred and the leftover rubble left from demolition drives will be cleared. Plantation of trees will begin the subsequent year and for three years after that, the forest department will have to continue to maintain the site and grow it into a self-sufficient forest.”
An estimated 7,500 native trees and shrubs will be planted to re-forest the 425 acres. Funds for the same, the official said, are likely to come from the Aravalli Rehabilitation Fund (ARF), which was set up after the Supreme Court, in 2009, banned mining in Gurugram and Faridabad, and called for a rehabilitation of the landscape.
When delivering its judgement on the Kant Enclave issue, the Supreme Court had directed the developer to deposit ₹5 crore in the ARF, on the basis of the ‘polluter pays’ principle of sustainable development.
The penalty is 10% of the builder’s total declared investment in the project, which the SC found to be in violation of the Forest Conservation Act (1980), by virtue of having been constructed on land notified under the colonial-era Punjab Land Preservation Act (1900), which accords the land legal forest status. The court ordered that all structures in the area built after August 18, 1992 (when the notification under the provisions of the PLPA came into force) be demolished and the forest restored.
“The penalty has been deposited by the developer. The district offices of Faridabad and Gurugram will be involved in the restoration work, but the mining department is the custodian of the fund and will have to release the money,” the official said.