"Both Slums And Farm Houses": Top Court On Aravali Forest Land Clearance

The court has sought a rehabilitation policy for the residents of the shantytown.

Of the 150 acres of illegal structures, 74 acres have been removed, the government has said.

New Delhi:

The Supreme Court today directed the Municipal Corporation of Faridabad to complete the demolition of illegal structures, including farm houses, in Khori village, located in the protected Aravali forest range. It also asked authorities to come out with a rehabilitation scheme by July 31 for those displaced.

"No illegal structures, whether slum or farm house, will be allowed on forest land. All should be removed without any distinction," said a three-judge bench headed by Justice AM Khanwilkar.

On June 7, the court had directed the Faridabad Municipal Corporation to remove encroachments in Khori within six weeks.

Under the forest law, no construction is permitted here since it is a notified forest land. But over the years successive governments had turned a blind eye. Many residents claim to have lived in these shanties for over 30 years.

The corporation said it is coming up with a rehabilitation policy, considering the human angle involved.

"Let the corporation frame the policy. We will facilitate that. If you have rights under the policy, you will be accommodated," the Supreme Court assured the shantytown residents on its part.

The Haryana government had said that out of 150 acres 74 acres of illegal structures had been removed and sought more time to remove the rest.

Senior Advocate Colin Gonsalves, representing the slum dwellers, pleaded with the court that the rehabilitation scheme should not leave the poor suffering while only the rich benefited.

"You (Corporation) have a draft policy. Incorporate suggestions of the petitioners and, within 10 days, come out with a policy," Justice Khanwilkar told the Faridabad Corporation.

The next hearing on the matter is scheduled for August 2.

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