The Jawaharlal Nehru University (JNU) allegedly constructed seven buildings violating environmental norms.
As per allegations, seven buildings within the JNU campus were constructed illegally and also along the Nelson Mandela Road, without obtaining mandatory environmental clearances. JNU is a part of the South Central Ridge and hence is a notified forest area. This, environmentalists say, will threaten the area’s ecology.
A social organisation, Chetna, has filed a petition before the National Green Tribunal, which has now sought a response from the Centre and also from JNU on the issue. A bench headed by NGT chairperson Swatanter Kumar has issued notices to Union Ministry of Environment and Forests, DDA, JNU, Delhi government while seeking their replies
The buildings include 24 Type III flats for staff at Paschimabad, sewage treatment plant in Saraswatipuram, a new hostel building near Shipra hostel, trans-disciplinary academic building, Yamuna hostel warden flats and dining hall.
President of Chetna, Anil Sood, filed an RTI in July last year seeking information from deputy registrar of JNU to furnish a copy of the permissions granted to the University for the construction of these seven buildings, considering that JNU is a reserved forest. The JNU, subsequently, replied that the deputy conservator of forest first intimated the JNU that the land proposed for construction of new hostels comes under the South Central Ridge (Reserve Forest) and that the matter shall be looked into by the Ridge Management Board in its meeting and thereafter only permission can be granted.
According to Sood, “It is amply clear that no approval for construction of buildings that were completed before 28 January 2015 was taken from the Ridge Management Board despite it being aware that the area is notified reserved forest area.”
The petitioner has also said that JNU has not received a formal nod for expansion and construction of seven new buildings but despite that no stringent action was taken by the authorities or by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), “which is the custodian of the South Central Ridge and has the supreme responsibility to maintain the ridge in its most pristine glory”.
Parts of the ridge covering 7,777 hectares were declared as a reserve forest by a notification by the Government of NCT of Delhi in 1994 under section 4 of the Indian Forest Act 1927.