Plot Owners To Be Refunded, ₹50L For HousesAmitAnand.Choudhary@timesgroup.com
In a big jolt to several prominent politicians, former bureaucrats, defence personnel and judges who purchased residential plots in Kant Enclave, situated in the protected zone of Aravali range in Faridabad, the Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered demolition of all buildings constructed after 1992.
Spread over 425 acres with
over 1,650 residential plots and open space of 153 acres in the form of green belts, parks and roads, Kant Enclave is a sought-after address with luminaries like former CJI A M Ahmadi and others residing in the area. Only 6km from the Delhi border and near Badkal and Surajkund lakes with the Aravali hills as a backdrop, the enclave is a refuge from the capital’s heat and dust.
The court set a deadline of December-end to clear the land by demolishing all structures. It also imposed a fine of Rs 5 crore on the company which claimed to have invested Rs 50 crore in developing the area. The fine amount is to be deposited within a month in the Aravali Rehabilitation Fund. The court directed the company to refund the money invested by people for purchasing plots along with interest at 18% per annum from the date of investment. For those who have constructed their houses, the court awarded a compensation of Rs 50 lakh.
The area was developed by R Kant & Co after the Haryana government granted exemption in 1984 for the construction of a film studio and residential complex. The permission was withdrawn after the company failed to comply with the terms and conditions. But the company later signed an agreement with the Haryana government agreeing to comply with the conditions and was allowed to go ahead with construction in March 1992, despite the area falling in an ecologically sensitive zone.
In view of large-scale environmental degradation in the Aravali and Shivalik hills, the state government in August 1992 declared the area as forest land under the Punjab Land Preservation Act.
As litigation lingered for years and the court granted interim relief, buyers kept purchasing residential plots and some of them even constructed houses. The state government said 33 multistoreyed buildings have been constructed and 291 plots, including three commercial ones, were sold.
State govt ‘conniving’ with builders: Court
The SC came down heavily on the Haryana government on Tuesday for turning a blind eye to the ecological degradation of the Aravali hills over the years and “conniving” with real estate developers to allow them to exploit the protected zones for commercial gains. It said some of the state’s authorities were responsible for the present tragic situation causing irreversible damage to the Aravalis, adding that the authorities preferred to espouse the interests of builders and mining companies instead of complying with the SC’s orders. P 5
SC says residents can sue firm, govt for damages
There is one film studio in the colony and the builder has set up two electric substations and constructed 20km of roads in the area.
Expressing concern over “irreversible damage” to the environment and ecology of the Aravali hills due to construction, a bench of Justices Madan B Lokur and Deepak Gupta said the company was brazenly flouting the law in connivance with the Haryana town and country department despite the reservations of its forest department.
“It appears that very large residential complexes have been constructed despite orders of this court, which did not give any blanket permission to applicants to make constructions according to their whims and fancies. For reasons that are not at all clear, such constructions were permitted by the authorities despite the orders of this court and even though the notification dated August 18, 1992 prohibited breaking up of the land. It is difficult, under the circumstances, to take the view that they had acted bona fide,” the bench said, turning down the plea of the company and residents not to order demolition.
“As far as the cost of construction is concerned, we tentatively quantify it at Rs 50 lakh. This will be paid to those who constructed after 18th August, 1992 and whose construction is directed to be demolished. The quantified amount will be paid, in equal proportion, by R Kant and Co. and the town and country planning department of the state of Haryana. The quantified amount is directed to be paid on or before December 31,” the bench observed.
It also allowed them to file suits against the company and the state government for enhanced compensation in view of their large investments.
It appears that very large residential complexes have been constructed despite orders of this court, which did not give any permission to applicants to make constructions according to their whims and fancies