At both the sites, the cops have not procured any permissions and cut thousands of fully grown trees
Land mafias and builders weren’t enough that even the police department has begun encroaching upon forest land. Two responses to Right to Information (RTI) queries have revealed that Haryana Police Department has encroached upon protected forest land at two different places to construct a training centre and a residential complex.
In the first case, the department not only encroached upon 57-acre of protected forest land, but also cut 4,526 trees to construct a police training centre on it in Bhondsi district.
This area is an important wildlife corridor connecting the Aravallis and is home to various wild species.
The department had, in 2017, sent a proposal to the forest department to acquire 397 acres of land there. And then it didn’t wait to procure any permission for either acquisition or conversion of the land under Forest Conservation Act, 1980 and went ahead with constructing the training centre.
In the second case, the police, in a similar fashion, cut more than 16,000 fully grown trees on 57.5 acres in Manesar between 2011 and 2013 to build a residential complex for Haryana Police. They have, till date, not got any permission for construction.
Seventy two-year-old Ram Avtar Yadav, former sarpanch of Manesar, who had filed the RTI queries, has now submitted a petition in the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
“The unauthorised construction has taken a toll on the mountains. If construction is permitted for the full 397 acres, it would result in irreparable damage to the Aravallis and the fragile ecosystem including the rich wildlife habitat that it supports and would be in violation of Supreme Court orders. The job of the police is to make sure that laws are followed. But they are themselves breaking them,” says Yadav.
When contacted, the forest officials said the acquired area comes under panchayat land and, as per a notification of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, all types of development and construction without permission is restricted over there.
“Yes, we have noticed violations. The institute should not have come up without permission. They acquired the land from the village panchayat. The complaints have been sent to the ministry and further action will be taken,” said Deepak Nanda, district forest officer, Gurugram.
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