The Supreme Court on Thursday ordered Haryana and central authorities to immediately start the process to remove any encroachment on protected forest land in Anangpur, Ballabhgarh.
The court ordered all relevant authorities to remove the remaining illegal structures erected after October 25, 1980 on lands covered by the special orders and used for non-forestry activities without prior approval from the central government.
The Supreme Court said that “the lands covered by the special orders issued under Section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act have all the trappings of forest lands within the meaning of Section 2 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act. Forests 1980 and therefore the state government or competent authority cannot authorize its use for non-forestry activities without the prior approval of the central government.
The bench of judges AM Khanwilkar, AS Oka and CT Ravikumar also found that the petitioners, which include owners of hotels/banquet halls etc. as well as the state government, had attempted to give “misleading and misleading” information to the court.
In 2013, the National Green Court passed directions to eliminate encroachments on forest land, but the order was challenged in the Supreme Court.
The Supreme Court also said the state government attempted to provide “misleading and misleading” information to the court in its argument against the removal of the encroachment.
The court blamed the Haryana government for “false and misleading” information about the state’s protected forest lands and said the verdict would also create protection for much of the Aravalli land.
This verdict would have a direct impact not only on Anangpur but also on a large part of the lands across Haryana and Punjab, which had been occupied by construction, mining or industrial activities, as the court noted that “the one of the objects of the PLPA was to prevent deforestation, as this can lead to soil erosion.”
The government argued that “if the claims of some of the intervenors are accepted, the entire districts of Gurugram and Faridabad will be forests within the meaning of Section 2 of the Forest Act 1980”.
The table provided by the government showed that a total of 39.3% of the land in Haryana is protected under various provisions of the PLPA.
The Supreme Court, however, held that “the image that the petitioners and the state government are trying to project is completely misleading and fallacious.”
The court came to this conclusion after analyzing the table and figures submitted by the government.
The tribunal in its verdict noted that “the special orders under sections 4 and 5 relating to 22 districts of Haryana, including the districts of Gurugram and Faridabad, cover only an area of 31,738 hectares, out of an area total of 44 21,200 hectares”.
“In at least 8 districts, not a single piece of land is covered by special orders under sections 4 and 5. Therefore, only about 7.1% of the total land in 22 districts is covered by special orders issued under Sections 4 and 5 of the PLPA,” said SC.
“Based on these figures of the lands covered by the special orders under sections 4 and 5, the percentage of the lands covered by the special orders under section 4 must be insignificant in relation to the total area of the districts”, concluded the court.
The Supreme Court ordered the authorities to remove the encroachments within three months.
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