Survey of 218 old estates underway in Mussoorie, may open up thousands of acres of land bank for construction

  • | Sunday | 5th November, 2023

Thousands of acres of land could be denotified (declared as non-forest land) in the Queen of Hills soon, leading to a slew of construction activities in the next few years. The denotification pertains to 218 private estatesin Mussoorie which had been partially or completely notified (land being declared as forest area) by the then-UP government in 1966.Although construction activities in these estates continued, the SC in 1996 put restrictions on construction and directed that notifiedforest land in these estates could not be diverted for non-forest purposes without the permission of the ministry of environment and forest. The SC also said that construction could be permitted only after a survey was done for demarcation. The survey, which started around 15 years back, hasnt been completed all these years although it is now in its last leg.The survey was initiated jointly by Mussoorie Dehradun Development Authority (MDDA), forest department and Mussoorie Municipal Council (MMC) in 2008-09 and is being conducted by Survey of India.According to forest department officials, the survey has been completed in about 200 out of the 218 estates. It is in its last phase and in three to four months, the draft report would be ready following which it would be forwarded to the government for necessary action, said Vaibhav Kumar Singh, divisional forest officer (DFO), Mussoorie.Although the exact area that could be denotified is not available, sources indicated that after the survey, as much as 3,000-acre of land could be denotified. Since almost all the estates date to colonial times and are situated in premier areas of the town, the land bank that is likely to be made available would be a highly-valued one, the sources added.Meanwhile, the move has led to concern among environmental activists who say that large-scale construction activities would unsettle the fragile hill town and hit its ecology. Mussoorie is already over-constructed and further construction activity on a large area could be detrimental. More construction could result in destabilising the limestone rocks and underground aquifers, affect the drainage of rainwater, lead to more landslides and affect the micro-climate, said Vipin Gupta, a resident, who was involved in preparing a report on the carrying capacity of Mussoorie in 1998.Gupta added that an environmental impact assessment must be conducted before construction is permitted. A retired official of MDDA further said that before any denotification, a master plan must be drafted to regulate the construction activities in the town and ensure adequate environmental safeguards.Earlier this year, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had raised concerns over the excessive unplanned constructions beyond carrying capacity in Mussoorie. The green body had also constituted a panel to study the carrying capacity of the hill town.We also published the following articles recentlySC permits Unitech to start constructionThe Supreme Court has allowed the new management of Unitech to begin construction activities by awarding 49 contracts. The court has directed home buyers who chose to possess completed units to pay the remaining amount as per the payment plan on the website. Failure to comply will result in an interest rate of 9% per annum. Buyers who previously opted for a refund can now change their preference by December 15. The court also directed Noida and Greater Noida to submit a revised plan for construction commencement.Tax raids on land, real estate traders in 2 distsIncome tax officials have conducted raids at two dozen locations in Deoghar and Godda districts in India. The raids targeted businessmen involved in real estate and liquor trading, and are linked to ongoing investigations into land and liquor scams. The raids are reportedly connected to the illegal sale of land and properties, including a Dharmshala belonging to the Charushila trust. The scam is estimated to involve more than Rs 1,000 crore ($13.8 million), according to claims made by a local BJP MP.Condition foisted on project affected persons to construct home in a year on alternate land, draconian, unreasonable: Bombay HCThe Bombay High Court has ruled that the state cannot impose unreasonable conditions on project affected persons (PAP) who have been allotted alternate land on humanitarian grounds. The court set aside a 2019 order that cancelled the allotment of a plot to a PAP for non-compliance. The court found the cancellation to be discriminatory, unjust, and arbitrary, and directed the state to allot additional land to the allottee within 12 weeks. The allottee had argued that the originally allotted land was inadequate for his familys needs.

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