Remove illegal shrines, tribunal orders


New Delhi: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed the Centre and Delhi government to demolish illegal religious structures in the Central Ridge area near the Birla temple here within two weeks.

A bench headed by Justice U D Salvi directed the Ministry of Urban Development and Delhi government to knock down two religious structures and a platform, identified as encroachment on the 7.5 acres of the ridge area.

“We direct that the respondent no 2 and 3 in collaboration with each other shall carry out the demolition of the said identified structures within two weeks.

“We further direct the Commissoner of Police to grant every police assistance to them for demolition,” the bench, also comprising Expert Member Ranjan Chatterjee, said.

It warned that if any “laxity” is shown in executing this order, it will hold officers concerned personally liable and will resort to coercive measures against them.

The direction came after the Ministry of Urban Development submitted that demarcation of the area where illegal structures are to be demolished has been completed and two religious structures and a platform have been identified as encroachments and sought police protection for demolition.

The order came on the contempt petition filed by K C Bhargava, who resides near the temple located on Mandir Marg here, stating the constructions by a trust are in violation of a Supreme Court order prohibiting non-forest activity in the 7.5 acres of land adjacent to the shrine.

Bhargava had alleged that the trust “in connivance with NDMC and other authorities has illegally constructed a road, parking, temple and other constructions within the said Central Ridge area”, a charge denied by the temple authorities.

The petition had also submitted that the Ridge — the northern extension of Aravalli Range — has been notified as a reserved forest area as per the Delhi government’s May 24, 1994 notification by which any non-forest activity there, without permission of competent authority, is prohibited.

It had alleged that the illegal constructions have been going on despite the apex court order and the May 1994 notification.