The National Green Tribunal has held that construction of a temple on a government land meant for maintaining 'open space' amounts to encroachment and must be removed.
The observation was made while deciding an application moved against alleged illegal construction of a 'Barat Ghar' at a park in Ghaziabad by the private respondent.
To ascertain the veracity of allegations, the NGT had constituted a joint Committee of UP Awas Evam Vikas Parishad and District Magistrate concerned, to look into the matter and take remedial action in accordance with law.
As per the report of the committee, a temple and a hall had been built at the site which was otherwise meant to be an "open space". The construction purportedly dated back to 2016 and there were no green trees in the premises.
In light of the above, the NGT ordered,
"It is clearly established that open space has been illegally encroached upon by respondent No. 5 in the year 2016. District Magistrate, Ghaziabad has thus rightly written letter dated 08.04.2022, asking the Municipal Corporation, Ghaziabad to take further action. Accordingly, we direct District Magistrate and Municipal Corporation Ghaziabad to take over the area, removing the encroachment and the encroacher, Respondent No. 5, Narender Bhardwaj and to restore the same as per law."
Significantly, the private respondent had argued that the Tribunal does not have jurisdiction to deal with the issue as the alleged encroachment was not of a park.
Disagreeing, the Tribunal held that use of open area for any construction adversely affects the environment and thus, NGT has the jurisdiction to deal with such cases.
"NGT has been constituted to provide remedy to victims of pollution and other environmental damage...absence of open space in present day when urbanisation is on increase, rural exodus is on large scale and congested areas are coming up rapidly, may give rise to health hazard. Protection of the environment and such spaces reduce the ill-effects of urbanisation. Thus, it is difficult to accept the objection that this Tribunal has no jurisdiction to deal with the issue of illegal conversion of open public space to private construction."
The application was disposed of with a direction to the Municipal Corporation to take over and maintain by the area.
CASE TITLE: M/s 108, Super Complex R.W.A. v. Uttar Pradesh Pollution Control Board & Ors.