After claiming there was no natural lake in the Najafgarh area, the Haryana government has now taken a U-turn by telling the National Green Tribunal that it has been accepted as a water body. The re-designation would enable the governments of Haryana and Delhi to check construction and other activities in the dried up water body and restore its natural beauty.
The M L Khattar government informed a bench headed by NGT chairperson Justice Swatanter that the matter however has still to be approved by the competent authority of the state government and it was under process. The state government had earlier claimed that there was no natural lake in Najafgarh but only a “low-lying area” existed.
“The counsel for Haryana submits that in original application no 325 of 2015 titled as Lt Col Sarvadaman Singh Oberoi Vs Union of India & ors, the state government has taken the stand that the Najafgarh jheel (lake) has been accepted to be a water body and the government has decided to identify the said water body and approval in that behalf is under process. “He says, however, the matter still has to receive approval from the competent authority in the state government. In light of that, nothing survives in this application and the same is disposed of,” the bench said.
Noting the submissions, the NGT directed Delhi government to take “appropriate steps in accordance with law” with regard to the Najafgarh lake in view of the statement made by Haryana government. The submission came in response to a plea filed by an NGO Indian National Trust for Art and Cultural heritage (INTACH) seeking directions to Delhi and Haryana governments seeking revival of the ‘jheel’ (lake in Urdu), as almost equal parts of it fell in the two states.
INTACH had alleged that the large-scale construction work done in the floodplain of the Najafgarh nallah and the lake had drained the area. It had claimed that sectors 106, 107,108 of Gurgaon were being constructed in the “high flood level” area of the lake, while some construction was also going on in the Delhi side. Located in south west Delhi and Haryana, the lake takes its name from the Najafgarh town. The lake used to be connected to the river Yamuna by a natural shallow nullah or drain called the Najafgarh nullah and the area used to be known for a natural bird sanctuary.