- The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered the demolition of structures built illegally by a prominent builder in the protected forests of the Aravallis.
- The apex court ordered that all structures built after August 18, 1992 in the area known as ‘Kant Enclave’ in Faridabad district of Haryana should be demolished by December 31, 2018.
- The constructions are in violation of the August 18, 1992 notification banning construction.
- In 1992, the Haryana government had issued a notification under the Punjab Land Preservation Act, declaring the area as forest land and fragile.
- However the court granted exemption to constructions made between April 17, 1984 and August 18, 1992.
- This was on basis of an exemption given by the State under the Haryana Development and Regulation of Urban Areas Act of 1975 for setting up a “film studio and allied complex” in the area.
- Now the Kant & Co, should pay a full refund to investors with 18% annual interest to whom they had already transferred the land.
- The illegal constructions according to the court’s order will severely impact the environment and ground water in the area.
- The area is already witnessing ecological degradation and acute water shortage in the area.
- Now the court applied ‘puller pays principle’ and ordered Kant and Company to deposit Rs 5 crore in the Aravalli Rehabilitation Fund to restore the forest land.
Aravallis in Haryana
- The Aravallis are the oldest fold mountain ranges in India cutting across Gujarat and Rajasthan in the west to Haryana and Delhi in the east.
- The Aravallis provide the only major forest cover in the state of Haryana which has a total forest cover of just 3.59%.
- Aravallis are home to a range of wildlife including jackal, neelgai, mongoose besides more than 100 bird species.
- Aravallis is a groundwater recharge zone and crucial for groundwater security of south Haryana towns like Gurgaon and Faridabad.
Ban on Mining
- In 2002 the Supreme Court imposed ban on mining in the Aravalli region in Haryana.
- Before 2002, the region was also a major source for grit and sand for the construction industry.
- It supplied half of India’s silica, an critical input in glass and semiconductors industry.
- In 2009, the court reaffirmed the ban and asked the Haryana government and miners to come up with a rehabilitation plan for the area.
- However according to a Supreme Court appointed committee area under illegal mining had increased substantially from 2010.
Ground water woes
- Mining requires digging deep into the rock and breaking through the ground water table.
- The exposed water had to be pumped out for mining to continue, leading to a severe depletion of the water table.
- According to a survey, between 1996 and 2003, ground water levels in one village declined by 17 metres, only to rise by about two metres in the years after that.
- In another cluster of villages in Faridabad district and neighbouring Delhi, groundwater levels rose by almost 7 metres after 2002-03.