Did SGNP lie to court, activist wants to know

Updated: Oct 05, 2019, 07:57 IST | Ranjeet Jadhav | Mumbai

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

This picture has been used for representation purpose only
This picture has been used for representation purpose only

Did Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) officials lie to the Bombay High Court? This is the question director of Vanashakti NGO, Stalin D, 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 the 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 the 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. We won't be able to provide the same."

A copy of the HC order related to SGNP 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... The Satellite Survey Report of the Space Application Centre, Ahmedabad, state there was an encroachment of 772.82 hectares in SGNP... 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 high court was without proper basis and is, understandably, missing today. Crucial documents have gone missing..." Stalin said.

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