Delhi High Court Orders Investigation into Southern Ridge Forest Construction

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    The Delhi High Court has issued a directive to the state government, the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD), and the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), calling for a thorough investigation into the permissions granted for recent constructions in the ecologically sensitive Southern Ridge forest area. This directive follows concerns raised by the amicus curiae about unauthorized construction activities within the Chattarpur area of the Southern Ridge.

    The amicus curiae, serving as a friend of the court, has drawn attention to the issue of illegal construction activities within the Chattarpur area, which falls within the Southern Ridge. Justices Satish Chandra Sharma and Justice Sanjeev Narula, presiding over the case, have acknowledged these concerns and have instructed the relevant authorities to provide detailed affidavits explaining the rationale behind granting permissions for new constructions within the Southern Ridge forest area.

    Of particular interest is the ‘Risland-Sky Mansion’ housing project located in Chhatarpur within the Southern Ridge forest zone. The amicus curiae has underscored that despite these housing projects being situated in ‘Lal Dora’/ ‘Abadi’ areas, they still fall within the purview of the Southern Ridge forest zones. Consequently, any construction within these areas violates environmental regulations due to the protected status of the ridge area.

    The counsel representing the Municipal Corporation of Delhi (MCD) has submitted a comprehensive affidavit confirming the existence of a large-scale residential complex in the Southern Ridge forest zone, specifically the ‘Risland-Sky Mansion’ housing project. However, MCD has clarified that it bears no responsibility for the encroachments, as the land in question falls under the jurisdiction of the Delhi government’s Forest Department. Therefore, it is the Forest Department’s responsibility to provide relevant affidavits regarding the constructions within the Southern Ridge forest.

    Earlier this year, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change informed the court of a notable increase in green cover in the national capital, particularly within denser forest areas. This shift is seen as a positive development, as denser forests have a greater capacity for carbon sequestration and mitigating environmental pollution.

    In February, the Delhi High Court expressed concerns about the significant loss of forest cover in the national capital, describing it as a grave injustice to nature. The amicus curiae presented photographic evidence illustrating the extent of forest cover loss, particularly around Asola sanctuary, the airport, and the President’s house. To address this issue, the amicus recommended that the government take steps to restore identified areas where encroachments have occurred within the ridge area.

    The Delhi High Court’s directive to the state government, MCD, and DDA represents a crucial step toward addressing the pressing issue of unauthorized construction activities within the Southern Ridge forest area. It underscores the significance of environmental preservation and adherence to regulatory norms, particularly in ecologically sensitive zones. The submission of detailed affidavits by the relevant authorities will shed light on the permissions granted for construction projects such as ‘Risland-Sky Mansion,’ contributing to ongoing efforts to protect and conserve the Southern Ridge forest.

    Also read: Three Indian Southern Capitals See Surge In Real Estate Launches, Says Recent Report

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