'Raze colony for environmental harm to Aravalli hills'

Last Updated 11 September 2018, 19:18 IST

The Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered demolition of an illegal colony in Delhi's adjoining Faridabad district for serious environmental damages to Aravalli hills.

Relying upon the 'polluter pays principle', a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta slapped a Rs five-crore fine on 'R Kant & Co', the real estate developer that constructed the colony in collusion with the Haryana government.

The court directed the company to refund the investment made by the people with an 18% interest.

It also ordered the company and the Town and Country planning department to pay in equal proportion the sum of Rs 50 lakh to each one who built residential houses in the Kant Enclave in the area— a total of about 1,600 plots were carved out and 33 multi-storey houses were constructed.

“There is no doubt that irreversible damage has been caused to the environment and ecology of the Aravalli hills. The brazenness of the applicants in flouting the law is quite apparent. But what is more unfortunate is the support given to the applicants by the Town & Country department of the state of Haryana, despite the reservations of the forest department,” the bench said.

The court said in the present case of Kant Enclave, well-meaning citizens were virtually duped into investing huge amounts, despite the company and the state government being fully aware of the statutory notification of August 18, 1992 that the Kant Enclave was a forest or forest land.

The court said the Haryana government took “conflicting and self-destructive stand” in “a complete lack of any concern for the environmental and ecological degradation carried out in the Aravalli hills by influential colonisers like the applicant and what appears to be a very strong mining lobby”.

The court passed its judgement in a matter arising out of a writ petition filed by environmental activist M C Mehta.

“It is not only the future generations that have to pay a heavy price for this environmental degradation, but even the present generation is paying a heavy price for the environmental and ecological degradation,” the bench said, adding there was an acute water shortage in the area.

“What was once a popular tourist destination, namely, Badkal Lake has now vanished and the entire water body has become bone dry. What are the more severe consequences that will be felt in the years to come, only time and nature will tell,” the bench added.

(Published 11 September 2018, 19:07 IST)

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