No encroachment can be permitted in the ridge areas of the national capital as these are primary natural features, the Delhi High Court has said. A bench of Acting Chief Justice Gita Mittal and Justice C Hari Shankar said that the law laid down by the Supreme Court as well as the statutory mandate have to be strictly complied with and should “brook no breach”. “This is more so in view of the imperative need for addressing environmental concerns on a war footing given the adverse impact of global warming,” it said. The court made observations during the hearing of a PIL by Delhi-resident Deepak Batra, who has sought a direction against alleged encroachments in forest land near village Neb Sarai, Indira Enclave in south Delhi.
The petitioner, through his counsel Manu Chaturvedi, has placed before the court the April 1966 notification issued by the revenue department of the Delhi government declaring the uncultivated land of the ‘gaon sabha’ as a ridge area. The counsel also submitted that the lieutenant governor of Delhi in 1994 had declared such land as reserved forest. The petition has sought blocking of a road constructed in the forest area to provide access for emergency vehicles to reach Indira Enclave, an unauthorised colony, close to the posh Sainik Farms area which too has been in news over alleged illegal constructions there.
The court did not approve of the road being built through the forest, saying, “No encroachment can be permitted in the ridges which are the primary natural features of the city.” Directions to this effect were passed 1980 by the Supreme Court in several orders, it said. “The forest land cannot be converted into a thoroughfare which is clearly beyond planned development under the Master Plan,” it said.
The bench observed that there was already an order of the Delhi government’s forest department that has directed construction of a boundary wall in the already-demarcated forest area to protect it from illegal encroachment. “This order has to be strictly complied with,” it said. The bench has sought a compliance report by July 31.