Illegal construction of farmhouses continues in Aravalis

Despite the Supreme Court’s latest order regarding the removal of all illegal structures located in the Aravali range in Gurguram, Faridabad and adjoining districts, rampant illegal constructions of farmhouses can easily be witnessed in the Aravali region of Gurugram.

The encroachers first erect a huge boundary wall at the main gate of the farmhouses to continue illegal construction inside the premises.

On Tuesday, while taking stock of the situation, this correspondent noticed construction work being carried out in Raisina village in the Aravali range where a concrete structure has been developed and an earthmover could also be spotted for digging. Construction materials were being transported to the spot through tractor-trolley without any hindrance.

People present at the spot were even threatening the journalists that they would be killed if they clicked photos or made videos.

However, after the Supreme Court took cognisance of the illegal construction of farmhouses in the Aravali range, the Gurugram district forest department and the Sohna Municipal Council have started identifying the farmhouses, adventure parks, banquet halls and other buildings which have been constructed illegally in parts of Gurugram and Sohna.

The civic body has started an encroachment and destruction drive with the help of high-resolution, remote-sensing satellite images through the National Remote Sensing Agency in the Gurugram region.

For this, they have also given necessary directions to the district’s forest department and dispatched drawings of villages located on the Aravali range in Gurugram.

Several notifications have already been served by multiple agencies to stop and protect the Aravali area from illegal activity, but now it seems that construction work is going on in violation of the notification.

In June, the Sohna Municipal Committee had served notices to around 450 farmhouses in Ansal Aravali Retreat and Golden Heights for constructing farmhouses on “Gair Mumkin Pahar” (uncultivable hill).

As per the Aravali Notification of 1991, no construction is allowed on uncultivable hills. The notices were served to these farmhouses as per the October 2018 direction of the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

However, the owner of a farmhouse claimed that the development took place before the Aravali notification came into effect and hence they didn’t violate any law.

“The farmhouses at Ansal Aravali Retreat are located on private land which does not fall under the notification. The Resident Welfare Association (RWA) of Ansal Retreat has recently filed suit for declaration in a lower court in which we have made the District Administration Gurugram, Forest Department, Sohna Municipal Council and District Town and Country Planning (DTCP) parties to clarify whether it was a forest land or agricultural land, because all the farmhouse owners have registries and mutation of their properties. Also, we got the land years ago from Ansal and had also paid hefty stamp duties,” Rajesh Vats, Vice President, Ansal Retreat RWA, told IANS.

He also claimed that the forest department has submitted an affidavit in the Supreme Court and NGT that these farmhouses don’t fall under forest land.

Vats said they are protecting the Aravali from the mining mafias. “We have planted a large number of trees to maintain the greenery,” he said.

He added that registries had also been conducted earlier in February 2021. IANS has accessed a copy of the registry document.

An official of Sohna Municipal Council said the revenue estate of Sohna, including Raisina, comes under the municipal boundary since 2015.

“With the help of the satellite image, we will check the constructions which have come up in the hills, and appropriate action would be taken as per the municipal act,” the official said.

He said that as per the municipal act, it is mandatory to take Change of Land Use (CLU) and building plan approval for construction irrespective of the land category whether it is Aravali or any other place.

The structures raised in violation of the act will face appropriate action as per the law, the official said.

Apart from this, the Gurugram district administration said a survey will be conducted with drone cameras to identify the constructions made in the forest area and all illegal constructions will be removed after serving notice to them.

Gurugram Deputy Commissioner Yash Garg has been ordered to start work within a week. After the survey, notices will be given by the forest department to the concerned persons for illegal constructions. After the completion of the notice process, the illegal constructions will be removed from the forest area.

“After this baseline survey, all types of properties built in the forest area will be identified along with their area. This mapping of all properties of Gurugram Municipal Corporation, Manesar Municipal Corporation and forest areas falling in rural areas of the district will be done. Action will be taken after starting the survey work soon,” Garg said in a statement.

Chief Conservator of Forests, Vasvi Tyagi, said according to the orders given to remove encroachment from the forest area in Khori village of Faridabad district, the Supreme Court has ordered to free the forest area from all kinds of illegal constructions.

“In compliance with the same orders, illegal constructions will be removed from the forest area in Gurugram district as well. The Forest Department has prepared a Geo Reference Map in Gurugram district which will be shared with the survey teams of the district administration,” she said.

Tyagi informed that under the Punjab Land Conservation Act (PLPA), about 6800 hectares of land of 33 revenue estates are covered in Gurugram district. For the baseline survey, this entire land will be surveyed by drone and the constructions made in it will be identified. After that action will be taken to remove the illegal construction.