Indicating that it may pass orders to hold senior officials personally liable for the encroachment on forest areas in Delhi, the High Court on Wednesday asked the Delhi government and all civic agencies to file their responses, with details of the officials in-charge of the areas under encroachment.
The bench of Justice Badar Durrez Ahmed and Justice Sanjeev Sachdeva has also asked the Delhi government to file a detailed action plan on the steps that need to be taken to stop the rapid encroachment of ‘forest’ areas in the city.
When Delhi government’s standing counsel Rahul Mehra informed the bench that the government had come up with an action plan to reduce pollution in Delhi, the bench directed the government to file a detailed affidavit with the plan.
“Who would be responsible if the action plan is not implemented,” asked the bench, and then asked for the names of the concerned officials of each government agency.
The direction was issued while the bench was hearing a PIL on air pollution in the capital. The court indicated its view after amicus curiae Kailash Vasdev filed a report claiming there was “no compliance” with any of the statutory requirements under the Forest Conservation Act.
“The destruction of forests, apart from being caused by encroachers, is also seriously attributable to infrastructure projects being developed by statutory bodies and authorities of the government… ,” said the report filed by Vasdev. He also stated that there were 26 areas classified as ‘protected forests’, which included old forests, district parks and nurseries.
“Everything is encroached here,” commented the bench, which then indicated that it may pass orders to “hold the officers responsible.”
The court also asked the government to complete the demarcation of forest areas, since the process has not yet been completed.