NEW DELHI: The municipal corporation of Faridabad on Friday informed the Supreme Court that rehabilitation policy for those who were residing in Khori village, where authorities have undertaken demolition drive to remove all encroachments from Aravali forest area, has been finalised.
The apex court was told by the counsel appearing for the civic body that they have already demolished nine or 10 farm houses and other unauthorised structures on the forest land in the area.
A bench of justices A M Khanwilkar and Dinesh Maheshwari was told by senior advocate Colin Gonsalves, appearing for some of the petitioners who are residents of the village, that statements made by the state earlier regarding rehabilitation there were “completely false”.
“We have done an exhaustive report. We have been to the area, we have interviewed people and we have found a shocking state of affairs. We have put it on record here,” Gonsalves told the bench.
When he submitted that the top court had earlier said that rehabilitation plan be notified by the authorities, the counsel appearing for the civic body informed, “The policy has since been finalised. I have got a copy of it yesterday. I will be placing it on record”.
The corporation’s counsel said he would share the copy of policy with Gonsalves and senior advocate Sanjay Parikh, who is representing some of the petitioners in the matter, and it has been finalised after taking into consideration the suggestions given by them.
The bench asked the state as well as the corporation to file their responses on the application filed by Gonsalves on and said it would hear the matter on September 6.
The apex court said the aspect regarding rehabilitation scheme can be considered on the next date of hearing on September 9.
Parikh told the court that situation is “pathetic” on the ground there and they have also visited the site.
When he said it is quite a “serious thing”, the bench observed, “What is serious, what is not, we will consider on the next date. Let them file their response. We are not trivializing anything”.
Parikh said he had earlier made statement in the court about Radha Soami premises there being in forest area.
He referred to a report filed earlier by the forest department of Haryana before the National Green Tribunal and said a total of 123 properties are located on forest land.
“There are two ways of doing it. We start investigating on all factual matters right now or allow them (authorities) to complete the exercise, give compliance certificate and only thereafter go into the aspect which you are raising,” the bench said, adding, “They are prioritising the action”.
The bench said it would inquire into all the aspects after compliance report is filed before it.
“We have made it clear in our previous order, any unauthorised structure in forest area, forest land must be removed. That is what we have said repeatedly,” it said.
The counsel appearing for the civic body said they have already demolished nine or 10 farm house and other unauthorised structures.
The bench asked the concerned authorities to file their responses on the issues raised by Parikh and said it would hear the matter on September 9.
At the fag end of hearing, advocate Mathews J Nedumpara, who also appeared in the matter, told the bench that he has a contrarian view and no structure can be allowed to be demolished merely for the reason that it is on forest land.
“In a democracy, we should have a contrarian view and that also should be heard,” he told the bench.
To this, the bench observed, “Day in and day out, we only talk about democracy and democratic values”.
The bench said it would hear his submissions on September 9 when all the issues will be heard.
On August 3, the top court had said all unauthorized structure standing on Aravali forest land in Khori village will have to go as its order passed in the matter regarding demolition of such buildings is “very clear”.
The apex court had on July 23 granted four more weeks to the municipal corporation to remove encroachments on forest land, after the civic body had said that unauthorised structures on nearly half of the total 150 acre area has been cleared.
On June 7, the top court had directed state of Haryana and Faridabad municipal corporation to remove “all encroachments”, consisting around 10,000 residential constructions, in Aravali forest area near the village, saying “land grabbers cannot take refuge of rule of law” and talk of “fairness”.
It had passed the June 7 order after hearing a separate plea filed by five alleged encroachers against the demolition drive of civic body.