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Notice was issued by the Supreme Court on petition challenging the diversion of forest land in Alwar District, Rajasthan between Khoa and Jaipur in favor of Defence Research and Development Organization (DRDO). The notice was issued by a three judge bench comprising of Chief Justice Dipak Mishra and Justices A.M.Khanwilkar and D.Y. Chandrachud.
The SLP was filed by Mr. Virendra Mathur against the dismissal of writ petition by the Jaipur bench of Rajasthan High Court, which dismissed the petition without going into its merits. The petition was filed on behalf of Kithur villagers.
The land was sought by DRDO for a strategic project and High Court did not look into the point that the DRDO project is of national importance. The Jaipur bench of High Court comprisied of Chief Justice Pradeep Nandrajog and Justice Sanjeev Prakash Sharma dismissed the petition on the ground that if the grievances sought in the petition needs to be redressed then the Gram Panchayat of the concerned must approach the court.
It has been alleged in the petition that the State and Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) has diverted 850 hectares of land for non-forest purpose in favor of DRDO violating the provision of the Forest Conversion Act, 1980 and the Forest Right Act, 2006. It was further alleged in the petition that the diversion also violates the Aravali Notification requirement of 1993 as the diversion lack environment clearance, environment impact assessment and environment management plan. It was further alleged that the land cannot be diverted for non-forest purpose as the land as per the revenue records is a ‘gair mumkin pahad’ and a forest land.
It has been claimed in petition that the land has been used by villagers for grazing cattle, for burying the dead and for other religious and social activities and the villagers of adjoining villagers have community rights over the land. It has been further alleged in the petition that the Non-Objection Certificates (NOC’s) for diverting the land has been obtained from Gram Sabha on fraudulent and baseless basis. As per Section 3(2) of the Forest Rights Act it is mandatory to obtain NOC’s from the Gram Sabha of affected villages. However, it has been alleged in the petition that the NOC’s issued in name of Village Kithur Panchayat are fake as DRDO never submitted environment impact statement or environment management statement as per Aravali Range Notification
The petitioners who have filed the petition before the Supreme Court are the residents of the affected villages and have sought an enquiry of the fake and fraudulent NOC’s.