The Delhi government is refusing to provide a “coloured map” of the “Ridge area”, which gives a detailed account of the rampant encroachment in the forest zone of the capital.
The capital’s forest area has not only been encroached upon, but is also being deforested in gross violation of norms. In order to protect Delhi’s forest area, also known as the “Ridge area”, a Ridge Management Board (RMB) under the chairmanship of the Delhi Chief Secretary, had been constituted. For any project to be undertaken in the Ridge area, clearance has to be obtained from the RMB.
The Delhi government had ordered cartography of the entire Ridge under a project undertaken by the Delhi State Spatial Data Infrastructure, which was undertaken by the Geological Survey of India (GSI), for which a task force was set up in 2012. However, the government has not made the map public so far.
Social activist Anil Sood sought to know the “coloured map” of Rangpuri village situated on the South Central Ridge, for which he had filed an RTI before the GSI. The GSI, however, told the petitioner in December last year that, after completing the project, the entire data was transferred to the Delhi government.
Subsequently, he approached the Chief Secretary for the coloured map of Mahipalpur village in South West District. However, his petition was transferred to the IT Department, which further transferred it to the Revenue Department.
“The protection of forest areas is a must in Delhi. The various departments are by design refusing to provide information which should be in the possession of the Chief Secretary’s office. Even if it is not with them, they are under obligation to collect the information and provide it to me,” said Sood.
Sood has now filed a complaint before the Chief Information Commissioner. He has also written to Lieutentant Governor Najeeb Jung saying: “Could you please intervene and make sure that the map prepared by the GSI indicating the geographical location of the Ridge is made available at the earliest?”
There have been large-scale complaints of encroachment in the Ridge area. According to a survey conducted by Inteth Engineers for the Delhi government’s Forest and Revenue Departments, huge encroachments have been identified at the Kalsi Farmhouse, Nala Camp, Vasant Enclave, Israel Camp and Shankar Camp.
Besides, the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), Bureau of Police Research and Development (BPRD), and National Crime Records Bureau have also allegedly constructed buildings in ecologically fragile areas, most of which have been identified as coming within the “Morphological Ridge”. Asaram Bapu’s ashram was also found to be encroachig on the “Ridge area”.
Sources said as many as seven buildings of the Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) were also built on encroached land in the Ridge area.