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Unauthorised colonies in forest areas are prohibited from regularisation: AAP government

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The affidavit was filed in response to the court’s query on December 23 to the Delhi government whether it was going to regularise encroachments on forest lands in the national capital.

The AAP government on Thursday told the Delhi High Court that unauthorised colonies in forest areas are prohibited from regularisation under the Centre’s October 2019 notification to regularise illegal settlements in the city.

In an affidavit placed before a bench of justices G S Sistani and A J Bhambhani, the Delhi government said the National Capital Territory of Delhi (Recognition of Property Rights of Residents in Unauthorised Colonies) Regulations, 2019, clearly states that no rights shall be recognised over land in reserved or notified forests.

The Delhi government, represented by its additional standing counsel Sanjoy Ghose, also said that even under the Urban Development Ministry’s Revised Guidelines of 2007 for regularisation of unauthorised colonies in Delhi, settlements which in part or entirely fell in notified or reserved forests were not to be considered for the relief.

“It is therefore submitted that the regulations themselves incorporate a bar on conferment or recognition of any right on any land or part of it which form part of any form of forest or protected/reserved area,” it said.

The affidavit was filed in response to the court’s query on December 23 to the Delhi government whether it was going to regularise encroachments on forest lands in the national capital.

The bench had raised the query after it was told by the amicus curiae, senior advocate Kailash Vasudev, that while regularising over 1,700 unauthorised colonies in the national capital, those in forest areas might also be regularised.

In its affidavit, the Delhi government further said there are currently 170 unauthorised colonies which in part or completely fall in different forest area categories, including wildlife sanctuary, notified reserve forests, morphological ridge, deemed forests and unclassified forests.

Deemed forests are those with 250 trees per hectare land and unclassified forests are any patch of land which is shown as forest in any government record, the affidavit said.

It also said the Delhi government’s Forest and Wildlife department has already identified forests or forest land on 174 maps and the Revenue department was in the process of demarcation of forest-revenue boundary.

The affidavit was filed in a PIL initiated by the court in 2015 on the issue of poor air quality in Delhi. The matter is listed for hearing next on January 31.

The high court had earlier noted that this matter was pending since February 9, 2015, and detailed orders have been passed from time-to-time for taking steps to curb air pollution in Delhi.

However, if the measures suggested from time-to-time had been seriously implemented, pollution levels in Delhi would not have been as alarming as they are now, the bench had said.

Source: PTI

(Note: The story has been published without modifications to the text. Only the headline and intro have been changed.)

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