Order of the National Green Tribunal regarding Delhi Ridge, 15/01/2021

  • 15/01/2021

Order of the National Green Tribunal in the matter of Jaipal Singh Vs Lt. Governor, Delhi & Others dated 15/01/2021. The matter related to conservation and protection of Delhi Ridge which is an extension of Aravalli Range extending from Tughlaqabad and branching out in Wazirabad in the north and also other parts of Delhi.

On April 3, 2019 the Divisional Commissioner-cum-Principal Secretary, Revenue Department filed affidavit giving status of demarcation of 19 villages based on total station mapping (TSM) survey in compliance to the NGT order March 11, 2019. The report stated that of the 71,310-18 bighas/biswas of the total Ridge area, around 4,684-17 constitute the encroached area. And around 70,941-02 comprise the demarcated area. Some areas have been handed over to the forest department.

Amicus Curiae has said that in respect of areas, which are unencroached and have already been demarcated and handed over to Forest Department, final Notification under Section 20 of the Forest Act should be issued forthwith. Such area should be covered by boundary wall/fencing in accordance with Section 6 to 8 of the Forest Act. The Forest Department should prepare Management Plan and the statutory authorities must regularly inspect the area and ensure that it is kept encroachment free. With regard to the remaining, the identified encroached areas should be retrieved in second phase by time bound action plan to be executed and monitored by the authorities for which there should also be a high powered oversight Committee.

The bench of Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel and Justice Sheo Kumar Singh found merit in the suggestions and issued directions encompassing these terms.

The NGT directed the Delhi Government through the Chief Secretary, Delhi to ensure that requisite Notification under Section 20 of the Indian Forest Act, 1927 is issued within three months in respect of the area about which there is no controversy. Further actions to be taken by the Delhi Government should include suitable protection by fencing/wall and vigilance. Identification of the remaining area and action plan for removing the encroachments must be ensured within the next three months. Execution of the action plan would be primarily under the Chief Secretary Delhi, who is also the Chairman of the Ridge Management Board.

The court also directed the constitution of an Oversight Committee (OC) to be headed by DG Forest, MoEF&CC with the Secretaries Revenue and Forest, Delhi Government, the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), Delhi, the concerned Deputy Commissioners, Delhi and the nominees of Police Commissioner, Delhi and the Forest Survey of India, Dehradun as members. Main function of the OC would be to oversee progress with regard to the removal of encroachments from the Ridge, its protection by way of fencing/boundary wall and preparation of management plan for its restitution.