Gurugram administration given ‘last chance’ to implement NGT order on Badshahpur-Kost drain
On November 20, 2018, the NGT had ordered the demolition of encroachments on the Badshahpur nullah based on a report by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC).gurgaon Updated: Jan 28, 2019 15:17 IST
In a strongly worded order dated January 15, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) came down heavily on Gurugram’s deputy commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh for not complying with its instructions to demolish and remove encroachments on the Badshahpur-Kost nullah in Gwal Pahari. Singh has now been instructed, by way of a “last opportunity”, to implement the court’s directive before February 1, when the matter is expected to be heard again.
On November 20, 2018, the NGT had ordered the demolition of encroachments on the Badshahpur nullah based on a report by the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC). In 2017, the ministry had carried out site inspections and satellite image analysis to assess the disappearance of the water body in Gwal Pahari—the origin point of Gurugram’s primary storm water drainage network. The nullah helps channel monsoon run-off and recharging groundwater supply.
Instead of implementing the order, however, Singh submitted a response to the NGT on January 14 suggesting that a new, three-member committee of revenue officers be formed to carry out a fresh demarcation of the area to determine the specific dimensions of the encroachments. “It will be in the interest of justice that the said encroachment is ordered to be removed after decision on final and conclusive demarcation report is passed,” Singh submitted in his official reply.
Taking umbrage at this, the NGT, in its January 15 order, stated, “We find that a turn has been taken by the Deputy Commissioner, Gurugram, by constituting a committee of three Revenue Officers. It would suffice to say that for the reasons best known to him, Deputy Commissioner, Gurugram, has ignored the aforesaid facts.” The NGT also said that Singh’s actions were an unwarranted attempt to circumvent the court’s instructions and delay the conclusion of the case, which had been filed by Gurugram-based environmental NGO Haryali Welfare Society.
According to the NGT’s November 20 order, satellite images dating back to 2010 were analysed by the MoEFCC and showed the “nullah having a width of approximately 40 to 50m and a length of 400m. Subsequent image of 2017 shows decrease in the width and length of nallah over a period of time due to construction by those who are adjoining the nullah.” The order upheld the MoEFCC’s observation that “the construction adjoining to nullah by M/s. Paras Buildtech India Pvt. Ltd. & M/s. Fantasy Buildwell Pvt. Ltd. has led to decrease of the area,” and also brought construction by a third real estater developer, Ansal API, under the scanner.
“These encroachments have led to an increase in urban flooding in the area, and are hindering groundwater recharge in Gwal Pahari, where the water table is already falling at a steady pace,” Sharmila Kaushik, a city-based environmentalist and plaintiff in the matter, said. Based on these findings, the NGT said in its November order, “In our considered opinion, encroachments on the storm water drain is a matter of serious concern and the same are required to be removed/demolished immediately.” However, more than two months later, the deputy commissioner has not taken any visible action against the encroachments.
“This order clearly shows that the deputy commissioner has not complied with the directions of the court. These encroachments made by private builders are large scale and are disastrous from an ecological point of view. The court has acknowledged this and ruled that they have to be removed,” Vaishali Rana Chandra, a member of Haryali Society, said.
Singh, however, said that the MoEFCC report is “unclear” in its precise definition and measurement of the encroachments. “We had put forth our limitations before the NGT that the report does not give precise dimensions of how much and which part of the buildings need to be demolished,” he said, adding that he could not carry out the demolition exercise without these details. “I need specific measurements and this is why I have asked for another, conclusive demarcation exercise to be carried out by an independent authority so we can determine exactly which parts of the encroachments need to be removed,” Singh maintained.
First Published: Jan 28, 2019 14:54 IST