In a recent landmark judgment, the Supreme Court, held that the construction made in Kant Enclave, Faridabad, Haryana are to be demolished as being in contravention to notification under Section 4 of the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900 hereinafter referred to as “PLP Act” and Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 wherein multiple restrictions were imposed for a period of 30 years for the preservation of the environment and ecology of the area. The land in the said area was equivalent to a protected forest land after the said notification.
The said ruling was delivered in the interlocutory applications pertaining to Kant Enclave, in M.C. Mehta v. Union of India, IA No. 2310-2311 of 2008 in W.P. (C) No. 202 of 1995 and IA No. 2378-2379, 2269, 2270, 2393 and 2381-2384 of 2009 in W.P. (C) No. 4677 of 1985 decided on 11.09.2018.
Applications were filed in the batch of substantive application in W.P. (C) No. 202/1995 pertaining to “Kant Enclave”, to determine whether land notified under “PLP Act”, is forest land or is required to be treated as forest land. If so, whether construction carried out by the Applicant R. Kant & Co. on the said land is in contravention of notification dated 18.08.1992 issued under PLP Act, Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980 and various decisions of the Apex Court. The issue of environmental degradation in the Aravalli Hills as well as the Shivalik Hills area was a matter of concern for the State of Haryana, therefore, the notification dated 18.08.1992 provided numerous restrictions such as prohibition on cutting of trees or timber, setting on fire of trees and timber of forest produce, breaking up of land without the permission of the Divisional Forest Officer, Faridabad, etc. for a period of 30 years from the date of publication of that notification.
The Apex Court held that there is no doubt that the land notified by the State of Haryana under the provisions of PLP Act must be treated as ‘forest’ and ‘forest land’. The construction activity carried out by the Applicant is in violation of the notification dated 18.08.1992. The Hon’ble Court held that the Town & Country Planning Department of the State of Haryana has been supporting the illegalities of the Applicant despite strong resistance from the Forest Department of the State of Haryana. The State of Haryana was held accountable the irreversible damage done to the ecology of the Aravalli Hills in the said area. The stand of the State of Haryana was found to be conflicting and self-destructive as there was a complete lack of concern for the environmental and ecological degradation carried out in the Aravalli Hills by influential colonizers such as the Applicant and a strong mining lobby. Given that it was observed that it is not only the future generation that have to pay a big price for this environmental degradation, but even the present generation is paying a heavy price for the environmental and ecological degradation as there is an acute water shortage in the area, as prophesied by the Central ground Water Board. The Hon’ble Court accepted the suggestion of the Central Empowered Committed and ordered the State of Haryana to demolish any construction made in the area after 18.08.1992 in violation of the said notification before 31.12.2018 being illegal, unauthorized and contrary to law.