A professor from Delhi University’s Atma Ram Sanatan Dharma (ARSD) College has levelled charges against the college authorities of illegal stone mining and felling of trees and their theft from inside the college premises. However, the college authorities, including the principal, have rubbished all the allegations made by the professor.
Pravat Kumar Behera, Assistant Professor of Physics in the college, has written a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi earlier this week, apprising him of the “goings-on” on campus. In the letter, he has requested the Prime Minister to take cognizance of the illegal felling of trees and rampant stone mining at the Aravalli hills which form a part of the ARSD College campus, and has sought the PM’s intervention in the matter.
Professor Behera has also mentioned in his letter that the college authorities are harassing him. “The college authorities have started harassing and deliberately humiliating me and the harassment has been increasing with each passing day,” he has written in the letter to PM Modi.
According to Professor Behera, the alleged illegal stone mining and felling of trees were done from 2013 till 2014. Speaking to The Sunday Guardian, he said, “Over 100 trees were felled and almost 2,000 truckloads of blue and pink stones were smuggled out of the college premises. Several cranes, JCB vehicles and stone crushers were used in the excavation works. The trucks entered the college during the wee hours of the night and wrapped up their work before dawn. The stones were cut in different shapes to be used for commercial purposes.”
Professor Behera has alleged that digging as deep as 10 feet had been underway between 2013 and 2014 inside the college premises, which surrounds the protected ridge area. “They had dug huge pits in areas surrounding the playground, from where these stones were mined and since the past one year, they are trying to fill up the dug up areas by using construction debris and polythene, which is causing further damage to the environment,” Professor Behera told this newspaper.
The ARSD College land has been leased by the President of India. “Permission of the President is required if excavation work is to be done but they never informed the President and in turn have benefited to the tune of crores of rupees by engaging in these illegal activities.”
An FIR under the Delhi Trees Conservation Act, 1994, and the Mines and Minerals (Regulation of Development Act, 1957), had been registered by the South Campus police station after intervention by the Patiala House Courts in Delhi, in December last year. The current college principal, Dr G.K. Jha, chairman of the governing body Pawan Jaggi and the then Officer on Special Duty (OSD) Dr Sandeep Sharma are among those accused in the case. The investigating officer in the case has said that a probe is underway.
Professor Behera has, however, complained of slow investigation. “It has been over five months, but there has been no progress in the case. The mining department officials, who were to visit the site, never came. The college authorities are all hand-in-glove and want to bury the case,” Professor Behera said.
College principal Dr G.K. Jha, one of the accused in the case, rubbished all the allegations made by Professor Behera and told The Sunday Guardian, “The matter is now sub-judice, so I would not say anything. We will fight this legal battle against this man and law will prove who is guilty and who is not.”
A professor close to Dr G.K. Jha said, “He is making false and improper allegations against the college. He has his own personal motive for this and is thus trying to malign the principal and the college.” Pawan Jaggi refused to comment on the case.