Aravallis in Faridabad deemed forest, rules NGT

Plea against nod for felling of trees

Updated - March 09, 2019 10:38 pm IST

Published - March 09, 2019 10:34 pm IST - New Delhi

A forest area on the Aravallis. File

A forest area on the Aravallis. File

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has held that Aravallis in Faridabad district will be considered as deemed forest.

The NGT was hearing a plea against the Haryana government permitting felling of more than 7,000 trees for a group housing project, to be undertaken by Bharti Land Limited.

A Bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel said, “It is difficult to uphold the stand of Haryana with which the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Changehas agreed that the area in question is not a forest area. Once it is so, mere fact that the area is included in [relevant section] in the Master Plan is not conclusive to hold the same to be not covered by the definition of ‘forest’ in terms of law laid down by the Supreme Court.”

Observing that the MoEF&CC had “mechanically upheld Haryana’s stand by ignoring” the enquiry report of the northern regional office of the Ministry, the Bench said, “If such a report was to be disagreed, it was necessary for MoEF&CC to have given reasons. The report was based on valid factual and legal basis which was brushed aside in agreeing with the erroneous view of Haryana.”

The State government had contended that the 52-acre land in question was not “recorded as forest land” and hence, it should be considered as “non-forest.” However, the green panel held this view as “erroneous in law” while citing previous judgments where it has been said that the “status of land is to be seen not only on the date of enactment of Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, but also with reference to subsequent status.”

The petition filed by Lt. Col. (Retd.) Sarvadaman Oberoi contended that the Haryana government’s permission for the project was in violation of Supreme Court judgments.

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