Did Sanjay Gandhi National Park officials lie to court, activist wants to know

Oct 08, 2018, 08:13 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav

In the writ petition on encroachment being heard in HC, SGNP officials had reportedly submitted an affidavit stating over 772 hectares was encroached on by quarries and agriculture

Did Sanjay Gandhi National Park officials lie to court, activist wants to know
According to the HC order, thousands of hutments have encroached on SGNP land

Did Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) officials lie to the Bombay High Court? This is the question Stalin D, director of NGO Vanashakti, has raised. The environment activist had filed an RTI application seeking details about SGNP land encroached by quarries and agriculture, as per a survey carried out by the forest department, as well as based on the officials' own admission in HC. And yet, park authorities' reply to Stalin stated they have no record of the information sought.

In  the writ petition on encroachment being heard in HC, SGNP officials had reportedly submitted an affidavit stating over 772 hectares was encroached on by quarries and agriculture.

Stalin had filed the RTI query in June. To that, the Public Information Officer of SGNP replied: "The application was sent to the Land and Survey section of SGNP, and they have informed that they could not find any such information."

A copy of the HC order in mid-day's possession has all the information regarding the encroachments, quarrying and farming. Point number 5 in it reads: "It was stated in the affidavit that a rough eye estimate of the encroachments was 78,000/86,000 huts... According to the Satellite Survey Report of the Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad, there was an encroachment of 772.82 hectares within the park. The bulk of the encroachments of 511.65 hectares was of hutments and 111.49 hectares was due to quarrying within the National Park. However, as per the physical survey carried out by the Forest Department, 187 hectares of land are under actual encroachments by hutments and 772.82 hectares is encroached upon by quarries and agriculture (sic)."

"SGNP's records are not in order. Even information submitted to the HC was without proper basis and is, understandably, missing today. Crucial documents have gone missing, raising doubts on the working of park authorities," Stalin said.

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