Tuesday 25 January 2022
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NGT raps AAP govt over inaction on unauthorised constructions in south Delhi

The green panel said working of NGT cannot be held up by engaging a counsel who is not available when the case is taken by a specialised tribunal

New Delhi: The NGT has rapped the AAP government over inaction on unauthorised constructions being carried out in south Delhi’s Jaunapur and Dera Mandi forest areas.

It noted that despite orders being passed on 11 December 2015, for removal of illegal constructions and filing of fresh execution plea, the matter has been pending.

According to a status report filed by Mehrauli SDM, the encroachment removal was to start on 10 August 2017, but it stated that 3,000 persons have encroached the forest land which creates difficulty, the NGT noted.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel also took strong exception that nobody appeared for the government to explain the status of action taken against illegal constructions.

The green panel said working of NGT cannot be held up by engaging a counsel who is not available when the case is taken by a specialised tribunal.

“No one appears for the government. We are informed by advocate Aayushi that the counsel for the Delhi government is busy in Supreme Court. Such unsatisfactory arrangement by the Delhi government is unacceptable.

“A Counsel must be engaged with a clear understanding of availability when a case is taken up. If such counsel cannot be engaged, the officer concerned should personally appear. We direct the chief secretary, Delhi, to ensure appropriate arrangement,” the bench said.

The tribunal directed the chief secretary to submit through e-mail a status report about compliance with the order of the tribunal after gathering relevant information from the concerned within a month.

“We may only add that so long as the order of this tribunal stands, the same must be carried out and illegality cannot be defended on the ground of alleged difficulty in carrying out a lawful order by a state committed to rule of law. Otherwise, there be chaos all around,” the NGT said.

The matter is likely to be heard next by the tribunal on 14 August.

The tribunal was hearing a plea by south resident Amarjit Singh Nalwa seeking execution of 11 December 2015, order of the National Green Tribunal directing removal of all constructions on forest area and its restoration to its original condition in accordance with the law.

Nalwa alleged that in spite of the order, constructions on the forest area have not been removed. He has sought a stay on all illegal activities including the cutting of trees, construction of residential accommodation and laying of concrete RCC roads through the forest.

He has also stated that unauthorised constructions are going on illegally in the said area and the authorities are not taking any steps.

The plea, filed through advocate Rahul Choudhary, had also sought a stay on disposal of municipal waste, boring of illegal tube wells, burning plastic and illegal mining activities in violation of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, in the notified forest areas of Jaunapur and Dera Mandi.

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