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Demolish illegal constructions at Asaram’s ashram on ridge:NGT

Asaram's ashram in Karol Bagh

New Delhi, Nov 10 (PTI) The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today directed the Delhi government and city police to demolish illegal constructions at controversial self-styled godman Asaram’s ashram in Karol Bagh here.

A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swantanter Kumar issued the directions to demolish the illegal encroachment and constructions made by Asaram’s ashram and asked it to bear the cost of the demolition and plant 1000 trees.

Earlier, a committee constituted by the tribunal had informed it that the ashram in the ecologically sensitive central ridge of the Capital had a “large number” of illegal constructions.

The tribunal had constituted the committee comprising Additional Chief Conservator of Forest, NCT of Delhi, a representative of MoEF and representative of Ridge Management Board to inspect part of the central ridge area.

According to its report submitted before the tribunal, there were “large number” of unauthorised structures in the ashram.

The committee which had commissioned detailed survey of the premises found that there were temporary as well as permanent structures which did not exist in the map of 1996.

The total area is indicated as 4,312 sq yard along with the approach path of 350 ft approximately. The NGT had also asked the panel to comment on whether any construction was made recently.

The tribunal’s order came on the petition filed by Sanjay Kumar.

Petitioner’s advocate Gaurav Bansal had told the bench that  Asaram’s trust had illegally constructed an ‘ashram’ and other structures in the Central Ridge area here despite the notification issued by the Delhi government in May 1994 on ridge area declaring it as “reserved forest” in terms of the provisions of the Indian Forest Act.

The petitioner had said he learnt from a media report that the ‘Asaram Ji Trust’ had constructed the illegal ‘ashram’ at Karol Bagh.

He had said the media report stated that “eight years ago, the ministry of Urban Development had itself acknowledged that the trust did illegal encroachment on a large portion of land situated within central ridge….”

72-year-old Asaram Bapu was arrested on rape charges in August last year and is in judicial custody.

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