Drone survey to identify illegal structures begins in Aravalli

The Gurugram forest department has started a survey with drones to identify illegal structures on Aravalli forest land.

The move comes weeks after the Supreme Court ordered the removal of all illegal structures from forest land in the Aravalli region.

According to officials, the department has surveyed more than 1,500 hectares to ascertain how many illegal constructions are there in the Aravallis. After the survey, the department will prepare a report. Based on the report, a blueprint for action against illegal constructions will be prepared.

Rajeev Tejyan, divisional forest officer for Gurugram said, “Following the orders of the Supreme Court, we have started a survey in the Aravallis and this drive will continue over the next few days to identify illegal constructions”.

In the third week of July, the Supreme Court, while hearing a case about the demolition of Khori village in Faridabad, observed that “the direction to remove all unauthorised structures standing on the forest land applies to all such structures without any exception.”

During an administrative meeting held in Gurugram, it was decided to conduct a drone survey in Aravalli. Notices have been given to the owners of 90 sites identified so far by the Forest Department. These include a large number of farmhouses and educational institutions as well as government establishments.

Government establishments identified on forest department land include Bhondsi Jail, Damdama Lake, Rithoj College and some parts of the Sohna Tourist Complex. The Forest Department has sent notices to all of them.

In the initial phase, survey of the Aravalli range falling in the Sohna area is being conducted. After Sohna, there will be a survey of the Gurugram and Manesar area. The survey is to be conducted on a total of 6,800 hectares in the Gurugram Aravalli range.

According to officials, illegal constructions will be marked based on the survey. In the first phase, notice will be given to occupants of illegal constructions. If the building owners do not demolish the construction even after the notice, the forest department will raze them.

“No major colony has come up in Gurugram Aravalli area like Khori village of Faridabad, but some small colonies have been developed. They cannot be called permanent colonies. The people of the working class are living in slums here. They have been verbally asked by the Forest Department to remove the huts in the past as well. Now strict action will be taken against them under the legal process,” the officer said.

He said that the entire Pahar Colony of Sohna has been marked as illegal construction. The process of giving notice to the landlords in Pahar Colony will be completed in two days. “The department will follow the Supreme Court direction. No matter how old the colony is, whether it is the house of the rich or the poor, everyone will be given notice. There will be no laxity towards anyone,” he added.