Saving the Aravallis

Landmark SC verdict against Kant Enclave

In a bid to undo the frightening damage caused to the fragile Aravalli hills by rampant deforestation and colonisation, the Supreme Court has upheld the importance of ecology by ordering the demolition of buildings that came up after August 18, 1992, in Faridabad’s high-end Kant Enclave. The Haryana Government had on that day 26 years ago banned construction on forest land under the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900. Yet, the builder, R Kant and Company, continued to carve out plots and the Haryana Town and Country Planning Department accommodated the illegalities by a clique of prominent people, including politicians and bureaucrats. Coming down heavily on the builder and HTCP Department, the SC ordered them both to compensate those who had built structures in the colony with Rs 50 lakh each and the plot owners with the cost of the land along with an 18 per cent annual interest.

The landmark judgment comes in the wake of tireless efforts by environmentalists and various agencies that have over the years warned against the irreversible harm caused to the environment in the Delhi-NCR area due to the degradation and denudation of the Aravallis. A criminal nexus has been ravaging the ancient hills with illegal mining and construction activities. The gravity of their devastating ill effects can be gauged from reports exposing the humungous toll they have taken.

The loss of the green cover in the Aravallis is said to be the root cause for the loss of groundwater, wildlife and dust-storms in the NCR and the resultant pollution and health concerns. It is imperative to raise a green barrier of trees again in the Aravalli range that extends from Gujarat to Delhi via Rajasthan and Haryana, so as to prevent desertification of our Capital. With the apex court intending to monitor the compliance of its order, the message to the high-ups manipulating their positions for power to twist the green rules for greed is clear: there is nothing more supreme than an environment-friendly ecosystem.

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