The move comes after the Supreme Court on July 23 ordered the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad (MCF) not to spare any illegal structures in the Aravalis, including farmhouses, commercial establishments and religious structures, during the ongoing demolition drive in Khori village.
“More than 130 notices were issued to owners of illegal structures in Faridabad Aravali areas earlier this week by the forest department. They have been given time till Monday to demolish the structures on their own. In case they fail to do so, the administration will raze the structures,” MCF commissioner Yashpal Yadav said.
Meanwhile, the forest department is carrying out a drone survey in the protected area. “We will still conduct the survey for another two days for identifying illegal structures in the Aravalis,” said Raj Kumar, the Faridabad district forest officer.
As many as seven teams comprising district administration and forest department officials are carrying out the survey, which will cover 5,430 hectares of forest areas. Illegal structures have been found in 500 hectares as of now.
Forest minister Kanwal Pal Gujjar had last year said a total of 60 illegal farmhouses were constructed in the Aravalis — 50 in Faridabad and 10 in Gurgaon — between 2000 and 2020.
Meanwhile, environment activists said that even though the Supreme Court has directed MCF to take action against the structures in forest areas which don’t have an approved building plan from the authorities, no action has been taken yet. “It is baffling that even after the Supreme Court’s recent order that MCF can demolish structures which do not have any kind of permission, no action has been taken yet. Owners of illegal farmhouses and other structures are deliberately being given more time,” said Vaishali Rana Chandra, an environmental activist.
In the Supreme Court hearing, the farmhouse owners’ lawyer had pointed out that some of the farmhouses are not in forest areas, but on private land. To this, the apex court had questioned why these owners needed representation if their properties are not on forest land. It had then directed all these owners to submit their land records with MCF.
Haryana state information commissioner Arun Sangwan had on July 9 also recommended that the civic bodies of Gurgaon and Faridabad form a committee each to ascertain the ownership of the farmhouses in the Aravalis. This order came when the commission was hearing a petition of IAS officer Ashok Khemka relating to the existence of 60 farmhouses in the Gurgaon and Faridabad Aravalis.
The commission had directed the financial commissioner (revenue) that a committee consisting of the district forest officer, district town planner, district revenue officer, executive officer and municipal corporation officials from the two districts be formed to ascertain the ownership of the farmhouses in the Aravalis falling under their jurisdiction and submit reports within two months.