December 20, 2023 – In a contentious move, R Kant & Company, the developer behind the ill-fated Kant Enclave in the Aravalis of Faridabad, is seeking clearance from the Union environment ministry to reconstruct the township on the same site where the Supreme Court ordered its demolition in 2018. The proposed reconstruction, however, faces a significant obstacle: the project falls within a kilometer of the eco-sensitive zone of the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.
The wildlife department’s inspection report dated December 5 raised red flags, asserting that the Anangpur site requires clearance from the National Board of Wildlife (NBWL) standing committee. The report cited environmental regulations, stating that “new commercial construction of any kind shall not be permitted within one kilometer from the boundary of the protected area or up to the extent of the eco-sensitive zone, whichever is nearer.”
Moreover, the inspection revealed that the area is part of the leopard corridor, an extension of the Asola Bhatti sanctuary in Delhi. The region is already fragmented due to urban development encroaching upon the crucial cat territory. The area adjoining the sanctuary serves as a natural forest acting as a buffer zone for wildlife, housing a diverse range of species including leopards, hyenas, jackals, civets, and various other flora and fauna.
The developer’s proposal to use approximately 392 acres of privately owned land in Anangpur for rebuilding the township and establishing a film studio has drawn criticism. The original Kant Enclave, constructed on 435 acres of forest land, was demolished following the Supreme Court’s ruling that it was illegally built on Aravalli forests in collusion with Haryana government officials.
The Forest (Conservation) Act protects the entire area, prohibiting non-forest activities without proper permissions. Legal experts emphasize the significance of the Supreme Court’s judgment, stating that there is no provision to allow diversion for residential purposes in such cases.
Rahul Choudhary, lawyer and founder member of the Legal Initiative for Forest and Environment (LIFE), emphasized the legal constraints, saying, “As there is already an SC judgment, there is no going back in this particular case.”
The controversy surrounding the Kant Enclave reconstruction highlights the ongoing battle between urban development and environmental conservation, with experts advocating for the protection of critical wildlife ecosystems and adherence to environmental regulations.