New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today directed the Delhi government that no road be laid in the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, which is located in southern Ridge area of the national capital.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also directed the government to provide details of the road proposed to be constructed through the sanctuary and said that no such work would go on till the next date of hearing - September 30.
"The Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi would state before the Tribunal whether any road is sought to be constructed in the Asola Wildlife Sanctuary. If that is so, they would not do any constructions in that area till the next date of hearing," the bench said.
The tribunal passed the order after senior advocate Raj Panjwani brought to the attention of the bench a news report stating that a two km road is proposed to be built in the sanctuary.
Panjwani, who is assisting the tribunal as amicus curiae in a matter relating to illegal construction of roads in the forests of the Ridge area, said, "There were three colonies in the sanctuary. Pursuant to a Supreme Court order, two of them have been shifted. But one is bent upon not shifting.
"Instead of persuading the occupants to shift, government is making it possible for them to stay on by building roads for them."
He alleged that the government is doing so in view of the upcoming assembly elections, as the third colony would generate around 13,000 votes.
The sanctuary, which is a protected area, contains one of the last surviving remnants of Delhi Ridge hill range and its semi arid forest habitat and its dependent wildlife. (More)
Meanwhile, the bench directed the Delhi government to
hear, on priority basis, pleas of Rajokari village residents who contended before the tribunal that they have a right of passage through the Ridge forest and police are not permitting them to use the road for regular traffic, causing inconvenience to them.
The bench also refused to change its interim orders prohibiting non-forest activity as well as usage or building of roads in the Ridge area, as sought by the villagers.
At the start of the proceedings, the Delhi government filed its affidavit stating that all steps are being taken to comply with the tribunal`s earlier directions as expeditiously as possible.
The government assured the bench that the forest rights of various claimants would be settled within the three months` time granted by the tribunal.
The DDA also filed an affidavit before the bench stating that various illegal structures have been raised in the forest area of Sanjay Van.