High court notice to Centre, Haryana on plea to quash Works of Defence Act

Courtesy : TNN – Ajay Sura

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday issued notice to the ministry of defence (MOD) and the Haryana government on a plea to quash the Works of Defence Act 1903 that restricts construction around defence establishments.

Bench headed by Justice Rajesh Bindal of the HC has issued the notice while hearing a petition filed by Vikram Singh, a resident of Sheetla Mata road Gurgaon.

Petitioner, who has a house within the restricted zone of Air Force station Gurgaon, has also sought directions not to displace him or demolish his house.

The matter would now come up for hearing on September 19 for further hearing.

Petitioner informed that in March 2016, the high court had directed the deputy commissioners (DCs) of Gurgaon and Faridabad to issue notices against those who have made constructions within 300 metres around the IAF ammunition depot Gurgaon and 100 metres around the air forces station in Faridabad. The DCs had been asked to issue notices asking the encroachers to remove constructions to avoid any action from the administration.

According to petitioner after reading the media reports about the demolition of his house, he is under fear of losing his living abode and only source of livelihood based on his ancestral land since immemorial time.

 “The sword/threat of demolition of the home situated on the ancestral land is in violation of human rights and various international covenants like Universal Declaration of Human Rights, International Convention of Economic, Social and Cultural Rights and Resolution No. 1993/77 adopted by Commission of Human Rights titled ‘Forced Evictions and Human Rights’,” said Pradeep Rapria, counsel for the petitioner.
Rapria further stated that government rehabilitate the slum dwellers having constructed their houses on the public land, but the people like petitioner who had constructed their houses on their ancestral land cannot be uprooted at the altar of Works of Defence Act the old draconian law of the year 1903, without ensuring respectable rehabilitation of people.
He further submitted that due to significant changes in the ground realities and enactment of subsequent statutes, after passage more than 100 years of passing of the Works of Defence Act, 1903, the antique law has lost its relevance and now the present ground reality is that without ruining the lives more than 25 lakhs citizens’ residing in the vicinity of the Air Force Depot, Gurgaon.

While making Maruti Suzuki India Limited and Pasco Automobiles as respondents along with the MOD, the petitioner pleaded before the court that the buildings of these companies are also situated within the restricted zone of the Air Force depot, nobody is touching them, while the government is bent-upon to demolish the houses of people having constructed their ancestral land.

Restricted area to be cut only after removal of encroachments: HC

Courtesy : TNS

The Punjab and Haryana High Court today made it clear that the proposal for reducing the restricted zone around the IAF ammunition depot at Gurgaon from 900 to 300 metres could be permitted only if the state government undertook removal of encroachments within the 300-meter area.Taking up the matter, a Division Bench of Justice Satish Kumar Mittal and Justice Mahavir Singh Chauhan also gave Haryana time till November 17 to file a detailed reply.

The development took place during the resumed hearing of the ongoing petition filed in public interest against encroachments in prohibited zones around the IAF stations in Gurgaon and Faridabad.Almost a year after recommendations were made for reducing the restricted zone from 900 meters to 500 meters around the Gurgaon, the High Court on a previous date of hearing was told that the area would, in fact, be decreased to 300 meters.A statement to this effect was made before the Division Bench by the Central Government. The assertion came just about two months after the High Court had asked the Union Ministry of Defence (MOD) to take a decision in the matter.Nearly 8,000 structures within the restricted zone of 900 meters around the ammunition depot were to be saved from possible demolition if the recommendation of reducing the zone to 500 meters was accepted. But now, with a further reduction in the area, the number of structures saved will be far greater.The matter had reached the High Court after a public interest litigation was filed by Suersh Goyal of Faridabad. He was seeking the removal of constructions from the 100-metre area around the Air Force Station, Dabua, in Faridabad, as it was a protected zone under the Work of Defence Act. The High Court had also taken cognizance of a similar matter on the construction activities within the restricted 900-metre zone in Gurgaon.

MoD told to decide on restricted zone quickly

Courtesy TNN

Punjab and Haryana high court on Friday asked the ministry of defence (MoD) to take a decision on the recommendations of 6-member committee suggesting reduction in the restricted zone area around the ammunition depot in Gurgaon.

The high court has directed the MoD to inform the court about its decision on September 7 when the case has been fixed for next hearing. In November, a six — member panel of the Union and Haryana government officers headed by additional secretary, Union ministry of urban development, had informed the high court that the radius of restricted zone could be reduced from current 900 metres to 500-600 metres.

The committee had submitted that radius of 500 to 600m would be appropriate. Even in case of a mishap, the buildings would not collapse and only suffer about 10% damage, added the committee, comprising experts from various Union ministries and Haryana government and formed in March 2014 following the directions of Punjab and Haryana high court to discuss and suggest a solution to encroachments related to ammunition depots in Gurgaon and Faridabad.

If the recommendations of the committee are accepted, around 8,000 structures around Indian Air Force depot in Gurgaon would be regularized. The 900m zone around the ammunition depot in Gurgaon covers an area of 2,325 acres and has 14,154 structures. The built-up area is around 692 acres.

The 500m zone, covering an area of 1,131 acres, had 6,275 structures. The built-up area is spread over 283.89 acres.

Gurgaon ammunition depot has strategic importance in the northern region and is ideal for transportation of armaments in case of a two-front war. It is most convenient for foreign receipts due to availability of air bridging facility in the vicinity, which had proved beneficial during Kargil operations in 1999.

The matter had reached before Punjab and Haryana high court through a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Suresh Goyal of Faridabad seeking removal of structures from 100m area around Air Force Station, Dabua in Faridabad, which is a protected zone under provisions of the Work of Defence Act.

HC had also taken cognizance of a similar matter about the construction activities within the restricted zone of 900m of the ammunition depot of IAF in Gurgaon.So far, HC has passed several directions on the issue to stop illegal construction activities in the restricted zones.

HC directs Centre to decide if restricted zone around IAF depot in Gurgaon be reduced

Courtesy TNN

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday directed the Union government to take a decision on the reduction of the restricted zone from 900 metres to 500m around the Indian Air Force (IAF) ammunition depot at Gurgaon till April 20.

A division bench headed by Justice Surya Kant asked the Centre to take a decision on reducing the restricted zone as per the recommendations of a central committee. During the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, the bench also asked the petitioners to bring to the court’s notice details of land mafia operating in the region, under whose patronage illegal construction was on. These directions were passed after the IAF counsel informed about continuous of illegal activities around the restricted zone.

On November 25 last year, a six-member committee headed by additional secretary, ministry of urban development, had recommended that it would be appropriate to reduce the prohibited zone near the Gurgaon ammunition depot from 500m to 600m for public traffic route.

“Even in case of mishap, the buildings will not collapse and would only suffer about 10% damage. Moreover, fatality was unlikely,” the committee had recommended in its report.

The committee, comprising experts from various central ministries and the Haryana government, was formed in March 2014 following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court to discuss and suggest a solution to the encroachment related to ammunition depots in Gurgaon and Faridabad.

If the recommendations of the committee are accepted, around 8,000 structures around the Air Force depot in Gurgaon would be regularized. The area of 900m around the ammunition depot in Gurgaon covers around 2,325 acres area and has 14,154 structures. The built-up area is around 692 acres.

Under the 500m radius, 1,131 acres are covered and there are 6,275 structures. The built-up area is spread over 283.89 acres.

Gurgaon ammunition depot has strategic importance in the northern region and is ideal for transportation of armaments in case of a two-front war. It is most convenient for foreign receipts due to availability of air bridging facility in the vicinity, which proved very convenient during the Kargil operations.

The matter had reached the high court through a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Suersh Goyal seeking removal of constructions from 100-metre area around Air Force Station, Dabua in Faridabad, which is a protected zone under provisions of the Work of Defence Act. HC had also taken cognizance of a similar matter of on the construction activities within the restricted zone of 900m of the ammunition depot of IAF in Gurgaon.

Before HC hearing, 40 illegal structures in IAF zone razed

Courtesy TNN

The MCG on Sunday razed 40 illegal structures built within the 900-metre restricted area around the IAF ammunition depot, a day before next hearing on the issue in the Punjab and Haryana high court.

Among the structures razed were 10 permanent buildings and 30 makeshift ones. The demolition drive was carried out from 6am to 9am in Sat Guru Farms on Old Delhi Road.

According to MCG’s executive engineer Rao Bhopal Singh, who spearheaded the drive, the demolished structures were notified by IAF officials only last week and MCG immediately got working on a strategy to bring them down. The MCG’s demolition team comprised all three joint commissioners, YS Gupta, Vivek Kalia and Pradeep Dagar, besides four executive engineers, 10 subdivisional officers and 15 junior engineers.

“We were planning the demolition for the past week. But due to lack of police availability, we had to postpone it. On Sunday, nearly 1,000 policemen were deployed to assist our demolition team fearing public resentment,” Singh said. The MCG had faced violent resistance in earlier demolition drives. “Most of the structures in the area were rented accommodations used by labourers and were empty as it was a Sunday. The demolition drive did not witness any violence or protests,” he added.

However, some people who lost their homes claimed their buildings were nearly five years old and the MCG should have targeted those making fresh constructions. Indresh Kumar Gupta claimed he bought land and built a permanent three-room home five years ago. “On what ground have they marked my house as illegal? This structure is built before 2011 and they cannot demolish it as per the court’s order,” said Gupta.

Joint Commissioner Gupta rebutted that argument. “The houses taken down were notified by the IAF and later verified by the MCG with house tax records and by comparison of satellite imagery. This should also be seen as a drive against various unauthorized colonies mushrooming in Gurgaon.”

Sources in MCG said another demolition was also planned in Sheetla Colony on Sunday but it was called off fearing protests.

“The suffering of the residents needs to be addressed, and the district administration and MCG are the ones who should speak for them rather than work against them by demolishing their homes and denying them amenities,” said RS Rathee, president of Gurgaon Citizen’s Council who had earlier led the protest.