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Saturday, Oct 19, 2019

Arthala lake encroachers fail to get NGT relief

In September 2016, the National Green Tribunal in a judgment had directed the removal of encroachment, besides giving directions on other issues.

noida Updated: Jun 09, 2019 15:18 IST
Peeyush Khandelwal
Peeyush Khandelwal
Hindustan Times, Ghaziabad
The land chunk number 1445 belongs to the lake but it has 549 identified houses.
The land chunk number 1445 belongs to the lake but it has 549 identified houses. (Sakib Ali /Hindustan Times)
         

The National Green Tribunal (NGT), while hearing a petition related to Arthala Lake, refused to implead encroachers as party in the case, saying the tribunal is only looking into the environmental issues with a view to protect the water body which was encroached upon by unauthorised persons.

The tribunal was hearing a contempt petition submitted by Ghaziabad resident and activist Sushil Raghav, who contended that the encroachment on Arthala Lake was not cleared despite the earlier directions of the tribunal to that effect. Raghav had moved the tribunal regarding the protection of a ‘bird sanctuary’ near Vasundhara and also raised the issue of freeing up the lake from encroachments.

In September 2016, the NGT in a judgment had directed the removal of encroachment, besides giving directions on other issues. Since no further action was taken for removing encroachments, Raghav moved a contempt petition.

The land chunk number 1445 belongs to the lake but it has 549 identified houses, which have come up after mafias filled up the water body and sold the land to migrants from UP and Bihar, among others.

After finding no relief, the occupants moved the NGT to implead themselves as party to the case and also to obtain a stay on the demolition of houses.

“The case of the applicants is that they are registered holders and they are in possession of properties prior to 2005-2006 on the basis of registered documents obtained from the government in this regard. If the applicants have a grievance that it is not a water body, they are title holders and it is not a revenue land, there are remedies available to establish their right at an appropriate forum. This court is not deciding the title issue (sic),” the tribunal said in its order on June 4.

The tribunal directed them to move an appropriate forum to establish their rights.

The occupants had moved the tribunal with a contention that they were not encroachers but had purchased the property on the basis of a registered sale agreement. They also pled that the areas were registered as private holdings in the revenue records and not as water body.

The administration on May 29 had demolished several structures after issuing notices and physically marking the unauthorised properties on the land belonging to the lake. A couple of days later, on the directions of district magistrate Ritu Maheshwari, the officials of the Ghaziabad municipal corporation lodged FIRS against 35 occupants who were allegedly involved in sale/purchase of land that was part of the lake.

“We will now continue with the demolition drive and have already lodged FIRS. I have directed the formation of a committee of officials who will submit a report after inquiry. The report will highlight how registries on the government land were done. The committee officials will submit a report within 15 days,” Maheshwari said.

First Published: Jun 09, 2019 15:18 IST

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