Kant Enclave 2? Builder seeks Centre’snod to build film studio on Aravali land

  • | Monday | 4th December, 2023

Gurgaon: The Kant Enclave, which was demolished in 2019 after the Supreme Courts 2018 order, is likely to be redeveloped on the forested Aravali land in Faridabad.The realtor — R Kant & Company — recently sought clearance from the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) for using nearly 329 acres of the privately owned land, of the total 425 acres of forest land in Anangpur village on which the Kant Enclave had initially come up, for setting up a film and allied studio.While the state forest department, which inspected the land parcel on November 6, sent the proposal for the studio to the Centre for a go-ahead, environmentalists pointed out the area came under the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900, where non-forest activities are prohibited, without prior permission under the Section 2 of the Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980. Section 2 of the Act states any forest land may be used for non-forest purposes if it is assigned, by way of lease or otherwise, to any private person or any authority, corporation, agency or any other organisation not owned, managed or controlled by the government.In its report, the forest department stated the illegal constructions on the Aravali forest land had been demolished in compliance with the Supreme Courts September 11, 2018, order. …(Now,) there exist only weathered roads and water tanks. The compliance report (for the demolition of the illegal structures) has been submitted by the department concerned in the Supreme Court, therefore, the case (the private firms application for setting up film and allied studios on 159.2 hectares or 329 acres) can be considered under prior approval, the report stated.The report, however, mentions that views regarding the applicability of para 1.15 of guidelines under Forest (Conservation) Act, 1980, may be kindly taken by the competent authority.Para 1.15 of the Act states utilising forest area for establishing industries, construction of residential colonies, institutes, disposal of fly ash, rehabilitation of displaced people, etc. are non-site-specific activities and cannot be considered on forest land as a rule. It allows exceptions for residential projects up to 1 hectare subject to appropriate justification and recommendation by the state government concerned and the regional officer of IRO of MoEFCC.Environmental activists told TOI that the state government could not have cleared applications for commercial or residential activities.These areas are notified under the Punjab Land Preservation Acts Section 4 and are recorded as forest. The SC has laid down restrictions on any construction that threatens to change land use in forest areas. So, conversion (of land) under the forest Act cannot be allowed for commercial and residential purposes. The forest department should have rejected the proposal at the first instance, Ritwick Dutta, an environmental lawyer and founder of the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE India), said.Section 4 of the PLP Act deals with special orders and bar non-forest activities on forest land without permission.According to Dutta, only in-site specific cases — like projects for oil, gas or mining that cannot be built anywhere else — permission can be sought under the forest Act. For this specific land parcel, the SC has already pronounced its judgment. So, no permission under the Act can be given, even for residential and agriculture purposes, as there is no dire emergency, he added. Dutta also clarified that the Forest (Conservation) Amendment Act, 2023, did not overrule the 2018 SC judgment in the case.Activists have criticised the state governments move as a way to regularise encroachment. Once a construction in an area has been declared illegal and demolition carried out, it needs to be restored as a forest. The forest department should not have turned around and entertained any diversion process for the same area again, Lt Col (retd) SS Oberoi, a Gurgaon-based environmentalist, said, referring to the 2018 SC judgment.In the order, the apex court observed, The damage caused to the Aravali hills, as already noted, is irreversible. However, perhaps some of the damage could be remedied — at least we hope so. Subsequently, around 33 illegal structures in the Kant Enclave were demolished in October 2019.Chetan Agarwal, a forest analyst, said the area falls in the Aravali region of Faridabad and is recorded as gair mumkin pahar (uncultivable land) and, therefore, is a part of the natural conservation zone of a regional plan.The forest department, meanwhile, said they have received and forwarded more than 100 applications to the Centre under Section 2 of the forest Act.

If You Like This Story, Support NYOOOZ



Your support to NYOOOZ will help us to continue create and publish news for and from smaller cities, which also need equal voice as much as citizens living in bigger cities have through mainstream media organizations.

Stay updated with all the Latest Gurgaon headlines here. For more exclusive & live news updates from all around India, stay connected with NYOOOZ.

Related Articles