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Delhi govt, MCD, DDA asked to explain construction of housing project in Southern Ridge forest


The Delhi High Court has directed the state government, MCD and DDA to explain how permissions were granted for new constructions in the Southern Ridge forest area where a multi-storey housing project has already come up.

The high court was informed by the amicus curiae that there have been illegal construction activities being carried out in Chattarpur area within the southern ridge.

“The counsel appearing on behalf of the Forest Department, Delhi government as well as counsel for MCD and Delhi Development Authority (DDA), are directed to file a detailed and exhaustive affidavit, explaining the grant of permissions in respect of new constructions in the Southern Ridge forest area, including but not limited to the housing project ‘Risland-Sky Mansion’,” a bench of Justices Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula said.

The high court was hearing a batch of PILs on the problem of poor ambient air quality in Delhi, an issue which it has also taken up suo motu and in which it has also appointed an amicus curiae (friend of the court).
Senior advocate Kailash Vasudev, who was appointed amicus curiae in the case, submitted that irrespective of the fact that the housing projects were built in ‘Lal Dora””Abadi’ areas, these Abadi areas fall within the Southern Ridge forest zones and no construction could have permitted herein as they are ‘reserved forests’. He said it is on the ridge area where construction is prohibited. The counsel for Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) filed a detailed affidavit in pursuance to the court’s earlier order, confirming construction of at least one large scale residential complex in the Southern Ridge forest zone — a housing project called ‘Risland-Sky Mansion’ in Chhatarpur. The MCD counsel said the municipal corporation has no role in the encroachment as the relevant land owner is Delhi government’s Forest Department which could file relevant affidavits in respect of constructions that have come up in the Southern Ridge forest.

The Centre had in March this year told the court that there has been a continuous increase in the green cover in the national capital and this shift towards increase in denser forest areas was a welcome sign.

The Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, in an affidavit, had submitted that the rising denser forest areas signifies an “increase in the capacity of forests to sequester carbon and mitigate environmental pollution”.

The high court had in February observed that the national capital was losing its forest cover “drastically” and “injustice” was being done to nature.

The amicus had earlier also shown certain photographs to the court to highlight the loss of forest cover especially in the areas around Asola sanctuary, airport and the President’s house.

While giving his suggestions to increase the forest cover in the city, the amicus had said the government should clean the identified areas where encroachments have been done in ridge area.


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