NEW DELHI: The Supreme Court on Friday took a serious view of the Haryana Assembly amending the Punjab Land Preservation Act (PLPA), 1900, removing protection to the forest cover in Aravali and thus opening up more than 28,000 acres of land in Gurugram and Faridabad to private builders. A bench of justices Arun Mishra and Deepak Gupta asked the Haryana government not to act on the amended provisions on the ground and described the move as a misadventure by the state government to overcome its judgment.
“We were apprehending that something of the sort would happen. Legislature is not supreme, and you are not above law. It is shocking that you are trying to destroy the forest cover.” The observation came after senior counsel Ranjit Kumar, who is amicus curiae in the matter, informed the court that the Haryana Assembly had amended the PLPA, 1900, taking away protection to the forest cover in the Aravali ranges in the state.
The court’s strong observations slamming the Haryana government came in the course of a hearing on compliance with its order of September 11, 2018. While the Punjab Land Preservation (Haryana Amendment) Bill, 2019 was passed by the state Assembly, the opposition, comprising the Congress and the Indian National Lok Dal, alleged that the BJP government in Haryana was trying to favour private builders and land sharks.The amendments to the act were passed by the state assembly amid protests and a walkout by opposition parties.
The top court had in January this year extended till July 31 the deadline for house owners, whose buildings were ordered to be demolished due to illegal constructions in forest area of Aravali hills, to vacate their premises subject to furnishing of an undertaking in this regard.The court said the 33 house owners in Faridabad’s Kant Enclave, who were earlier directed by it to vacate their premises by March 31, would get time till July 31 if they filed an undertaking that they would vacate the properties by then.
The court had termed “frightening” the illegal construction in the forested areas of Aravali hills.