The National Green Tribunal has directed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to file an affidavit within a week stating how much time would be needed to take the possession of demarcated forest land in the Southern Ridge area here.
A bench headed by Justice Raghuvendra S Rathore passed the order after it was informed by the counsel appearing for the Delhi government that the process of taking possession has started.
"The Nodal Officer, S K Muan Guite, DCF (South) is present before us. We asked him as to how much area has been taken over and what is the area remaining. Further, we had asked as to how much time would be taken to complete this process of taking over the area. But he was unable to give any specific reply in respect of the said questions," said the bench.
Looking to the facts that these proceedings have been pending since long and after demarcation the possession is yet to be taken by the Forest Department, "we deem it proper to direct Head of Department i.e. Principal Chief Conservator of Forest to file an affidavit within one week, in response to the aforesaid three questions which the tribunal would like to know precisely", it added.
The matter is posted for next hearing on October 15. The tribunal was hearing a bunch of pleas field by South Delhi resident Sonya Ghosh and others against encroachments on forest land in the Southern Ridge area and seeking their removal.
The green panel had earlier rapped the Delhi government for its "casual" approach in demarcation of forest land in the Southern Ridge area here and directed it to complete the exercise.
It had warned that in case the order was not complied with, disciplinary proceedings would be initiated against the officials concerned and a cost of Rs 2 lakh would be paid by each respondent, particularly Revenue Department and Department of Forest.
The NGT had earlier directed the Delhi government to adhere to the time schedule and expeditiously carry out demarcation of the area falling within their limits.
It had said the city government was frustrating the orders of the green panel on one pretext or another and showing "disdainful conduct" in the matter.