GURUGRAM: Farmhouses in Raisina and other parts of Sohna in the Aravalis, which were constructed after 2015 when Sohna was incorporated into the municipal area, are under scrutiny for violations similar to those at Bandhwari.
Along with the farmhouses, several adventure parks and other commercial structures have come up in this area but none of them has a change of land use (CLU) or building plan approval, necessary for construction in urban areas, from the civic body.
“With the help of satellite images, we will check all constructions that have come up after 2015, particularly in the hills. Action will be taken if the municipal act has been violated,” said MCG commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh, who is also the district municipal commissioner.
He added that like the Bandhwari farmhouses, which were demolished after the Supreme Court took cognisance of a report published in TOI, the properties in Sohna too, if constructed without CLU and building plan approval, will face similar action.
In 1990, the Ansals took a no-objection certificate from the department of town and country planning for development of orchards and farms over 1,200 acres of land in Sohna’s Raisina. The builder developed the area with a road network and other civic infrastructure and sold small portions of land to different individuals as ‘farms’ in Ansal Aravali Retreat and Golden Heights.
At that time, this did not come under ‘controlled area’, and therefore no licence was required. A portion of the land parcel was earlier shamlat (common village land) but is now under the municipal corporation. The ownership claim is being contested in court.
“Sale and purchase of the land was not illegal, but carrying out construction without any approval and permission was,” said Singh.
In 1991, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) came up with the Aravali Notification prohibiting any kind of construction, and even electrification, in the Aravalis. But farmhouses continued to be built in violation of the rules. The Haryana Pollution Control Board (HSPB), the agency for enforcement, took the owners to the environment court in Faridabad, but the case was rejected on technical grounds. HSPB approached the high court and lost the case again.
In June this year, the Sohna Municipal Council had served notices to farmhouse owners in Ansal Aravali Retreat and Golden Heights for illegal construction on ‘gair mumkin pahar’. Last week, the NGT directed the Haryana government to restore the forest in the Raisina hill area of the Aravalis within five months.
District town planner RS Batth said they will seek details of revenue records to check the categories of land. “We will also urge the forest department to check if the area comes under their jurisdiction, and seek details from Sohna municipality about the notices served to the farmhouses,” he said.
The forest department, however, has said the area is not under its jurisdiction.
Kuldeep Kohli, owner of a farmhouse in Aravali Retreat, argued that the development had taken place before the Aravali Notification. “The area is not recorded as gair mumkin pahar in the revenue records,” he said, adding the farmhouses had not violated the law and were legal.
Another owner of a farmhouse in Golden Heights said they were protecting the Aravalis from the mining mafias. “We have planted a large number of trees to maintain greenery,” he said.
A senior forest official underlined the need to identify the scrub forest of the Aravalis and stop its clearance for the construction of farmhouses. “The story of the Aravalis is one of government apathy, lack of knowledge and intent. It’s high time the Aravalis are protected. There are some influential people that have had held the entire area to ransom,” said the official, not wishing to be named.