All illegal constructions at Asharam Bapu’s Ashram in Delhi, directed to be demolished

National Green Tribunal (NGT):NGT has directed Delhi Government to demolish all permanent and temporary illegal structures built by Sant Shri Asha Ramji Bapu Trust in Karol Bagh on the “protected” Ridge Forest area. Earlier, an environmentalist filed a complaint before NGT alleging that Sant Shri Asha Ramji Bapu Trust had illegally constructed an ashram and other pucca and semi pucca constructions in the central ridge area, Karol Bagh, New Delhi. It was further submitted that the ridge area which has been notified as “Reserved Forest” is extremely important for conservation of bio-diversity and for ensuring the survival of floral and faunal components of biodiversity, for the present as well as for the future and no diversion of forest land for non-forest purposes from critically and ecologically fragile habitat should be allowed. After perusing the report of a committee constituted earlier by the tribunal to inspect part of the central ridge area, NGT observed that the ashram in the ecologically sensitive central ridge of the Capital had a “large number” of illegal constructions, temporary as well as permanent which did not exist in the map of 1996 and also are in violation of the undertaking given by the Trust before Supreme Court in January 9, 2003. “All the permanent or temporary structures raised by respondent no. 10 (Trust) subsequent to the order of the Supreme Court dated 9th January, 2003 in the forest area under its occupation/possession including the area of 4312 sq. yards shall be demolished within four weeks from the date of passing of this order”, directed NGT. NGT further added that the cost of the demolition would be borne by the trust. Besides ordering the demolition, NGT also directed the trust to dismantle the sewage pipe emanating from the ashram and to plant 1,000 trees in the area. (Sanjay Kumar v. Union of India2014 SCCOnLine NGT 2366, decided on November 10, 2014)

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