A Delhi High Court bench of acting chief justice Gita Mittal and justice C Hari Shankar, while disapproving of a road being built through the forest, said that “No encroachment can be permitted in the ridges which are the primary natural features of the city.” The bench added 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 the observations, while hearing a PIL by Delhi-resident Deepak Batra, who 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, 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 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 the news over alleged illegal constructions. The court did not approve of the road being built through the forest and said that encroachments could not be permitted in the ridges, which are primary natural features of the city. Directions to this effect were passed in 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 directed the 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 sought a compliance report by July 31, 2017.