Sanjay Basu, an entrepreneur living in Faridabad, spent Saturday morning visiting warehouses in search of a place to store furniture and other belongings.
His house, where he’s lived for over 10 years now, is among several structures in the locality that are set to be demolished in the wake of a Supreme Court order passed earlier this week, which recognises the 425 acres of land on which Kant Enclave stands as forest area. “When I purchased my plot in 2003, I was reassured by the Town and Country Planning department that the colony was regular. As a precautionary measure, we also checked the master plan, and only then did we begin work. As regular citizens, this is the most we could do,” said Basu.
“We got the registration done, our building plans were approved, and as work began, even a site inspection was conducted. We never imagined at the time that the construction would be irregular. If a resident of this country cannot trust the master plan, the registry, the town and country planning department, who can we trust?” he said.
While ordering the demolition of all construction carried out there after August 18, 1992, a bench of Justice Madan B Lokur and Justice Deepak Gupta had pulled up R Kant & Co, which carried out the construction, and the Haryana Town & Country Planning Department for allowing it. The court said their actions had caused “irreversible” damage to the Aravalli hills.
Owners of the 284 residential plots in Kant Enclave include lawyers, judges, Army officers, architects and doctors. Many are senior citizens.
“I am over 70 years old and am still among the younger residents here. The only recourse we have been offered is Rs 50 lakh compensation, and the choice of appealing in the civil court. The compensation will not even buy me a one-bedroom flat in NCR, and a case in the civil court will drag for 30 years. Do I have that kind of time?” said Brigadier (retd) M B Anand, who moved to Kant Enclave in 2004.
“Residents here are middle or upper-middle class people at most. We do not have multiple houses or multiple pieces of land. For me, this was supposed to be my final and only home. I put in all my pension and savings in it, and also took a loan which I am still paying off. Where do I go now?” he added.
Robin Dasgupta, an architect who has been living at the enclave for around 20 years, said, “My mother is 92 years old; she can barely move. We are not culprits, but victims of misgovernance. It is unfair to dislodge us from our homes like this.” In such a situation, residents say their only hope lies in the state government and the Haryana chief minister, to whom they have written a letter seeking a meeting. “We all want forests to be protected, but the way is not to demolish homes that people were given the right to build. Different government departments must come together and protect the rights of people or at least give proper compensation,” said Basu.