Raisina farmhouses under scanner for CLU and building plan approvals – ET RealEstate

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GURUGRAM: Farmhouses in Raisina and other parts of Sohna in the Aravalis, which were constructed after 2015 when Sohna was incorporated into the municipal area, are under scrutiny for violations similar to those at Bandhwari.

Along with the farmhouses, several adventure parks and other commercial structures have come up in this area but none of them has a change of land use (CLU) or building plan approval, necessary for construction in urban areas, from the civic body.

“With the help of satellite images, we will check all constructions that have come up after 2015, particularly in the hills. Action will be taken if the municipal act has been violated,” said MCG commissioner Vinay Pratap Singh, who is also the district municipal commissioner.

He added that like the Bandhwari farmhouses, which were demolished after the Supreme Court took cognisance of a report published in TOI, the properties in Sohna too, if constructed without CLU and building plan approval, will face similar action.

In 1990, the Ansals took a no-objection certificate from the department of town and country planning for development of orchards and farms over 1,200 acres of land in Sohna’s Raisina. The builder developed the area with a road network and other civic infrastructure and sold small portions of land to different individuals as ‘farms’ in Ansal Aravali Retreat and Golden Heights.

At that time, this did not come under ‘controlled area’, and therefore no licence was required. A portion of the land parcel was earlier shamlat (common village land) but is now under the municipal corporation. The ownership claim is being contested in court.

“Sale and purchase of the land was not illegal, but carrying out construction without any approval and permission was,” said Singh.

In 1991, the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) came up with the Aravali Notification prohibiting any kind of construction, and even electrification, in the Aravalis. But farmhouses continued to be built in violation of the rules. The Haryana Pollution Control Board (HSPB), the agency for enforcement, took the owners to the environment court in Faridabad, but the case was rejected on technical grounds. HSPB approached the high court and lost the case again.

In June this year, the Sohna Municipal Council had served notices to farmhouse owners in Ansal Aravali Retreat and Golden Heights for illegal construction on ‘gair mumkin pahar’. Last week, the NGT directed the Haryana government to restore the forest in the Raisina hill area of the Aravalis within five months.

District town planner RS Batth said they will seek details of revenue records to check the categories of land. “We will also urge the forest department to check if the area comes under their jurisdiction, and seek details from Sohna municipality about the notices served to the farmhouses,” he said.

The forest department, however, has said the area is not under its jurisdiction.

Kuldeep Kohli, owner of a farmhouse in Aravali Retreat, argued that the development had taken place before the Aravali Notification. “The area is not recorded as gair mumkin pahar in the revenue records,” he said, adding the farmhouses had not violated the law and were legal.

Another owner of a farmhouse in Golden Heights said they were protecting the Aravalis from the mining mafias. “We have planted a large number of trees to maintain greenery,” he said.

A senior forest official underlined the need to identify the scrub forest of the Aravalis and stop its clearance for the construction of farmhouses. “The story of the Aravalis is one of government apathy, lack of knowledge and intent. It’s high time the Aravalis are protected. There are some influential people that have had held the entire area to ransom,” said the official, not wishing to be named.

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Gurugram: Razed Aravali farmhouses had jacuzzis, lounges – ET RealEstate

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GURUGRAM: Lush green lawns, badminton courts, jacuzzis, open gyms and lounges, the government team bringing down illegal farmhouses in the Bandhwari area for the last three days discovered that the two biggest premises, which they took the bulldozers to on Friday, were also the most luxuriously appointed.

Built across two levels, they had all modern amenities and were being used as retreats where one could go to spend some time in the lap of nature for up to Rs 15,000 a night. Action will be initiated against both the developers and owners of these farmhouses, officials said.

The government moved in to demolish the farmhouses, around 50 of them and all built on protected land, after TOI reported on August 25 that an entire hill had been flattened to build an approach road to this farmhouse colony, 1.5km off the Gurugram-Faridabad road.

Gurugram: Razed Aravali farmhouses had jacuzzis, lounges
“The three-day long demolition drive has ended. Some of the structures were very strong and it took us an entire day to demolish just one,” said district town planner S Batth, who led a joint team of MCG and the department of town and country planning (DTCP).

Gurugram: Razed Aravali farmhouses had jacuzzis, lounges
While some of the razed farmhouses were ready-to-move-in, others were at different stages of construction. The two demolished on Friday, for instance, had tie-ups with global accommodation sites and were being used as retreats. These were sold as plotted land and secured with boundary walls by as part of ‘Rose Valley Farms’ project, officials said.

Gurugram: Razed Aravali farmhouses had jacuzzis, lounges
Rose Valley Farms had come to the notice of the authorities way back in 2015. “MCG had then issued notices to the developers, but there was no follow-up action. And over the years, more farmhouses were constructed. The illegal colony also came to the notice of DTCP last year and we had even recommended filing of an FIR,” said Batth.

Gurugram: Razed Aravali farmhouses had jacuzzis, lounges
“We are going to file a chargesheet, based on our last year’s complaint. Along with the farmhouse owners, the developers will also be prosecuted for violation of urban area norms. The construction was carried out without the change of land use and the approval of the building plan. We are also trying to find out the ownership pattern of the land and how the same was sold to individual owners,” he added.

Gurugram: Razed Aravali farmhouses had jacuzzis, lounges
“We have seized records showing some of the farmhouses had tie-ups with an online accommodation platform. They would charge up to Rs 15,000 a night,” said another DTCP official.

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Land registries of illegal farmhouses in Aravali done before construction – ET RealEstate

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GURUGRAM: Most farmhouse owners managed to get land registries done before the illegal construction of their properties began over 40 acres of land in the protected Aravali areas of Bandhwari, where an entire hill was flattened to build an approach road.

This once again brings the focus on local tehsil offices, which are under a government probe. The Haryana government had last month stopped registries when a spike in illegal land registries was noticed during the lockdown.

It subsequently ordered a probe, suspended six revenue officials in Gurugram and made sweeping changes in the registration process to plug the loopholes corrupt officials had been exploiting.

It remains to be seen whether the same loopholes were exploited in Bandhwari. It wasn’t just an acre or two. Illegal farmhouses came up over 40 acres. And without any of the approvals needed from any of the government agencies.

Multiple farmhouse owners have claimed to have registration papers for the land. All the 50 farmhouses, which were at different stages of construction, have been razed in a three-day drive, which started on Wednesday after the Supreme Court took cognisance of a TOI report about the hill being flattened.

Officials said land records of Bandhwari are now under scrutiny. “How were these land parcels sold and who had executed the registry? All these need to be investigated,” said an official. “More than two-thirds of the land in Bandhwari falls under the Aravalis. In revenue records, it was common village land. But over time, large chunks of this land have been transferred to private ownership and gradually sold to developers.”

“The land owners, in collusion with some revenue officials, managed to manipulate NoC rules and got the registry done without getting the necessary nod from the DTCP,” said a source.

“Even after the registries were carried out, it seems that was no mandatory verification, usually carried out within a week.”

Deputy commissioner Amit Khatri and divisional commissioner Ashok Sangwan did not respond to requests for a comment. The revenue department comes under the deputy commissioner.

District town planner RS Batth, however, said Bandhwari is notified as an urban area, but the notification is not under Section 7A of the Haryana Development and Regulation of Urban Area Act, 1975, which requires an NoC. “Anyway, we will check all these things. Even if the land owners have got the properties registered, it does not give them the right to carry out construction as change of land use is not possible in the area.”

But farmhouse owners have termed the demolition of their properties “illegal”. “If our properties were unauthorised, why did the authorities register them?” said an owner, requesting anonymity. “We had purchased the farmhouse in 2013. The registry was done by one government agency and now other agencies demolished the same.”

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Eight illegal farmhouses in Aravalis demolished – ET RealEstate

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GURUGRAM: Barely 24 hours after issuing notices to the developers of 50 illegal farmhouses in the Bandhwari area of the Aravalis, authorities on Wednesday razed eight such properties. The remaining farmhouses, which are at different stages of construction, will be demolished on Thursday, officials said.

The action by the department of town & country planning and MCG came a day after the SC took cognizance of a TOI report about a hillock that was flattened to build an access road to 50 farmhouses.

Illegal farmhouses at Aravali: Demolition drive to continue

A joint team of DTCP and MCG, led by district town planner RS Batth, moved in with bulldozers in the morning into the Bandhwari area and demolished the farmhouses, including four readyto-move-in structures, in the presence of a 70-member police force.

“The demolition drive will continue on Thursday as well and the remaining farmhouses will be razed. Barbed fencing put in place to separate the farmhouses being built across 25-30 acres of land will also be removed. We are even planning to register FIRs against the developers of the properties,” Batth said.

At least four government agencies — DTCP, MCG, Haryana Pollution Control Board and the state forest department — had carried out separate inspections of the site on Tuesday, and termed the constructions a clear violation of the “controlled area” notification. Subsequently, MCG had issued the notices, a formality before the demolition of any unauthorised structure.

“The farmhouses were constructed without taking any permission from the departments concerned. They were found to be illegal as per the statute of both the DTCP and the MCG. So, prompt action was taken. The Gurugram deputy commissioner has also sanctioned the demolition drive,” said Batth.

The district mining department, the forest department and the pollution control board are also expected to take action as per their statute. “Thousands of trees were cut to clear the area in the Aravalis. We had issued a damage report, in which a penalty of Rs 1 lakh was imposed. We are considering carrying out a plantation drive in the area,” said a seniorforest official.

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