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Encroachment continues on Faridabad PLPA land

June 24, 2019 06:07 AM


Prayag Arora-desai ■
Encroachment continues on Faridabad PLPA land
GURUGRAM: Activists, on Sunday, raised the alarm over continued violation of environmental laws in Faridabad, after fresh encroachments were seen on protected forest land near Mewla village. The encroached land is notified under sections 4 and 5 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900 that make any nonforestry activity on such lands illegal, as per a recent order by the Supreme Court.

In September last year, a Supreme Court order in the matter of Kant Enclave declared that all land notified under the PLPA was to be protected as forests with additional protection under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980.

A custodian on site said the plot had been cleared and encroached upon by an Anangpur village resident, who is allegedly politically connected.

According to activists, the plot in question, spread over at least 2 acres of the Aravallis, was cleared of more than 500 trees and shrubs. From the embers visible around the site, it is clear that the trees and shrubs were cut and stumps burned. In their place, there is now a dirt road, concrete structures, and an iron gate. High-tension wires of the Dakshin Haryana Bijli Vitaran Nigam (DHBVN) are also slung across the adjacent highway to supply power to the plot, which has a brick fence.

This is the second such incident in under a month, where the DHBVN has supplied power to a plot on forest land. On May 31, HT had reported how electric poles had been erected on PLPA land in Mangar village.

Jeetendra Bhadana, a Faridabad-based environmentalist who was leading an educational clean-up drive for students in the Aravallis, noticed the new encroachment on Sunday morning. “There are two questions which arise here. One, why is the forest department continuing to turn a blind eye towards land grabbing? And two, why is the discom supplying power to the unauthorised constructions on forest land?” he said, adding that such encroachments were strewn across the Aravallis in Faridabad and Gurugram.

Environmentalists criticised the district forest department for failing to protect the Plpa-notified lands, of which, according to the state forest department website, at least 5,800 acres fall in Faridabad’s eight villages.

Sunil Harsana, an environmentalist from Mangar village, said that within this year, at least three farmhouses have come up on the stretch between Ankhir village and Surajkund. These structures, he said, are built inconspicuously, usually some distance inside the forest. “These buildings are not more than a few feet tall. One can’t see them under the canopy of trees,” he said.

Harsana also pointed out the need for wider enforcement against violators of forest laws. “On the one hand, the district administration is demolishing buildings in Kant Enclave after the Supreme Court declared it was built illegally on forest land. But, this is just one violation. The same stringent action should also apply to smaller parties who have built structures on Plpa-notified land,” he said.

Faridabad chief town planner Sanjeev Mann said that department of town and country planning routinely rejects requests for change of land use in protected areas. “Sections 4 and 5 of the PLPA mean that land under question is forest land. We have not permitted any projects in such areas,” Mann said. He did not comment on the mushrooming of unauthorised structures in the forest area.

District forest officer Suresh Punia declined to comment on the matter. DHVBN officials could not be contacted.

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