SC orders demolition of constructions in Faridabad forest area
New Delhi : The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered Haryana to demolish concrete structures raised in Kant Enclave after August 18, 1992, as it is a forest land and no construction activity should have been allowed there.
A bench of Justice Madan B. Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta observed that constructions in Kant Enclave of Faridabad have caused "irreversible" damage to the Aravalli hills.
An August 18, 1992 notification issued under the provisions of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900 (PLP Act) prohibits activities like cutting of trees, construction of any dwelling units, farmhouses, sheds or community centres in and around the area.
"Any construction done after August 18, 1992 is clearly illegal and contrary to law and must be demolished as recommended by the Central Empowered Committee... We direct the State of Haryana to demolish the illegal and unauthorised constructions. The demolition should be completed on or before December 31, 2018. We direct accordingly," said the bench.
It further said: "The unfortunate and distressing consequence of this is that because of a complete lack of any concern for the environmental and ecological degradation carried out in the Aravalli hills by influential colonisers like the applicant and what appears to be a very strong mining lobby in Haryana, the damage caused to the Aravalli hills is irreversible.
"It is not only the future generations that will have to pay a heavy price for this environmental degradation but even the present generation is paying a heavy price for the environmental and ecological degradation inasmuch as there is an acute water shortage in the area as prophesied by the Central Ground Water Board.
"In addition, what was once a popular tourist destination, namely, Badkal Lake has now vanished and the entire water body has become bone dry. What are the more severe consequences that will be felt in the years to come, only time and nature will tell," said the bench.
It said the construction activity carried out by the R. Kant & Co. is clearly in violation of the August 18, 1992 notification and in blatant defiance of orders passed by this court from time to time.
"Unfortunately, the Town and Country Planning Department of the State of Haryana has been supporting the illegalities of the applicant despite strong resistance from the Forest Department of the State of Haryana.
"There is no doubt that at the end of the day, the State of Haryana comes out in very poor light and must be held accountable for its conflicting and self-destructive stand taken in spite of affidavits filed by the Chief Secretary of the State of Haryana from time to time supporting the Forest Department," said the bench.
The extent of violation of the notification is quite "frightening" and one can only imagine the phenomenal environmental and ecological damage caused to the area by the builder, said the apex court.
The bench also said that these violations could not have taken place without the knowledge of the state government and its officers who permitted in blatant disregard for the rule of law despite affidavits filed by the state.
"The rule of law seems to have broken down in Haryana and become the rule of men only to favour the applicants. At this point, we cannot help referring to a passage from a judgment of this court with regard to the Aravalli hills and the need for their protection. We had intended to avoid this reference only because it would be repetitive, but it is painful to see such a mockery of the law and total lack of concern for the environment and ecology of the Aravalli hills," the judgement stated.
As a relief to those who were conveyed the land but did not do any constructions, the bench ordered the builder and the Town and Country Planning Department of Haryana to fully refund their investment along with interest at 18 per cent per annum payable from the date of the investment.
With regard to those who constructed buildings on the land conveyed to them by the R. Kant & Co., the top court ordered Rs 50 lakh compensation.
The court asked the builder to pay the compensation before December 31.
The builder was also asked to Rs 5 crore for rehabilitation the Aravalli hills, and the amount must be deposited in Aravalli Rehabilitation Fund within one month or or before October 31, said the court.
Chief Secretary of Haryana is to ensure compliance of these orders on or before December 31, the bench added.