NGT violates Haryana Forest Department for diversion of forest land for non-forest use by Medanta hospital
New Delhi, July 20 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal has raped the Haryana Forest Department for authorizing the diversion of forest land for non-forest activities by Medanta Hospital in Gurugram.
The court also ordered the hospital to pay a fine and file a compensatory reforestation fee in accordance with applicable procedure.
A bench led by NGT chairman Judge Adarsh Kumar Goel said that for the illegality committed by Haryana Shehari Vikas Parishad in auctioning forest land for non-forest purposes at the hospital, he is required to pay compensation equal to five times the net present value (NPV) and also deposit the compensatory reforestation costs, in accordance with the applicable procedure.
“It is regrettable that a statutory authority has ignored the illegality of protected forest land acquired and auctioned for non-forest purposes without following the procedure prescribed by law.
“In principle, in such cases, the original position must be restored and the protected forest must be maintained as such. However, an irreversible situation has arisen to which the state authorities are parties ”, declared the judiciary.
The court said the area should be returned to the forestry department as the protected forest is to be managed by the forestry department in accordance with the 1927 Forestry Act and this is to be ensured by the chief administrator, HSVP, Gurgaon immediately but no later than a month.
The NGT noted that in terms of the inspection report of the regional official of the Ministry of the Environment, the area of the classified forest in question is 5,530 square meters. Medanta ceded 3,200 square meters, as confirmed during the hearing by the attorney for (HSVP) which will now be used as a reserved forest, he said.
Instead of the remaining 2,330 square meters, Medanta offered to donate, at its own expense, an alternative land to use as a classified forest, the court noted.
“With regard to the remaining 2330 square meters, the decision of the Ministry of the Environment granting the authorization to divert forest land for non-forest purposes does not call for any interference except that the said conditions for regularization must be strictly observed. “Medanta will be responsible for complying with said conditions, including payment of NPV and compensatory reforestation fees, in accordance with applicable procedure. Another condition for such a diversion will be that Medanta will cede at its expense equal alternative land for forestry purposes instead of the land allowed to be diverted within one month which will be used exclusively for forestry purposes by the forestry department. », Says bench.
The NGT said the proposed alternative lands should be fit for purpose and that suitability could ultimately be decided by the forestry department, according to the law.
“While Medanta can be justified in pleading that he took land at public auction, the illegality having been exposed, Medanta’s position in continuing to defend the case is not appreciable. In any case, it is not out of charity that Medanta has proposed alternative lands because it is likely to restore the protected forest anyway. The Haryana Forest Department is also to blame for the situation as it did not raise the issue.
“The HSVP, Forestry Department and Medanta can now ensure compliance with these instructions within one month from today, failing which the statutory authorities concerned may take enforcement action to comply, including prosecutions under the forest law, ”the judiciary said.
The green sign made it clear that the arrangement is not to tolerate illegality but in view of the compulsion of the situation and the particular facts clearly indicating that it cannot be cited as a precedent for the future, the violation of the forest law being a criminal offense which is not tolerable especially when the much necessary forest is depleted.
“The land will have to be returned to the forestry department. As the transfer of protected forest without due process is an offense, this ordinance cannot be regarded as condoning the illegal action but remedying the situation in a particular factual situation. The land in question can be turned over to the Forestry Department. Said department can do proper fencing / guarding, afforestation and maintain the same as protected forest, ”said the bench.
The court heard a plea filed by the NGO Sarv Jan Kalyan Seva Samiti asking for the removal of the wall allegedly built by the hospital in sector 38 of Gurugram.
The NGO was represented by lawyers Siddharth Yadav and Vipin Gupta in court, which also included expert member BS Sajwan.
The government of Haryana duly notified Jharsa Bund as forest land and the said area belongs to the fiscal domain of Jharsa village in Gurugram district.
‘Medanta Hospital (The Medicity) has its land adjacent to said Jharsa Dike / Forest in Sector 38, Gurugram. Respondent n ° 4 (Medanta) encroached on the bund by building a concrete wall, then removing the soil from said bund, cutting down trees and removing them on the spot ”, alleges the plea. PTI PKS RKS RKS