Despite ongoing demolition drives targeting encroachments in the protected Raisina hills of the Aravalis, construction activities persist. During a visit to the area on Tuesday, observed new boundary walls and buildings being erected at multiple locations, with gates also being installed elsewhere. Cement mixers were operational, and laborers were actively engaged in construction tasks.
The Aravali Notification of 1992 bars construction of buildings, walls and roads, and felling of trees without permission in protected areas. Non-forest activities are not permitted on land categorised as ‘gair mumkin pahad’ (uncultivable hill). Under the Union environment ministry’s Aravali Notification, ‘gair mumkin pahad’ is protected land where construction of buildings, roads, electrification and felling of trees are not permitted without permission.
NGT on Dec 9, 2022 had directed Haryana and Rajasthan govts to set up a monitoring committee and conduct periodic — preferably quarterly — reviews till all encroachments are cleared from Gurgaon, Faridabad, Nuh and Alwar — land classified as ‘gair mumkin pahar‘.
The tribunal also asked the chief secretaries of both states to ensure compliance with the directions. NGT bench of chairman Adarsh Kumar Goel, judicial member Sudhir Agarwal, expert member A Senthil Vel and Afroz Ahmad pronounced the judgment in the case.
According to a forest department survey, at least 500 farmhouses have been built illegally on Aravali land in Gurgaon, concentrated in areas like Gwalpahari, Abheypur, Gairatpur Bas, Sohna, Raisina and Manesar. Demolitions were carried out in Raisina last week.
In Sept 2021, the green tribunal had ordered both the govts to remove illegal structures and restore forest land, apart from submitting action-taken reports. A detailed list of these structures was submitted to the NGT in the Sonya Ghosh vs state of Haryana case last year. The report also had details of the total area occupied by them and their locations.
The Gurgaon administration in 2020 replaced the term ‘gair mumkin farmhouse’, which had insidiously found its way into the revenue records, and helped farmhouse owners skirt provisions of the Aravali Notification, with the original term, ‘gair mumkin pahad’. Environmentalists said despite various demolition drives, the area is witnessing encroachment on a massive scale.
Meanwhile, officials from the municipal council of Sohna — where Raisina falls — said, “We are carrying out a demolition drive in the area and we will check if any fresh construction is taking place there.”