The Congress on Monday raised the issue of alleged illegal purchase of around 400 acres of forested common lands in the Aravallis by Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda in parliament. Raising the issue in the parliament, former environment and forests minister Jairam Ramesh said that a ‘high-profile, politically well-connected private enterprise’ had indulged in illegal purchase of lands in Haryana’s Aravalli hills. He said that these purchases took place between 2014 and 2016 after the BJP won the assembly elections in the state and Manohar Lal Khattar became the chief minister.
Ramesh said, “Why should these purchases concern us? First, these purchased lands are hilly forests that should have been protected following the Supreme Court’s order of December 1996 that defined the criteria for forest lands,” Jairam Ramesh said without naming the firm.
“Second, in January 2011, the Supreme Court had directed that all village common lands should be made free of encroachments and returned to gram panchayats so that they could be used for their intended purposes. The purchases violate this order.”
Ramesh said that the Haryana Assembly had amended the Punjab Land Preservation Act, 1900 to permit all kinds of construction activities in the Aravalli hills in February this year. However, he added, the Supreme Court took a dim view of these amendments terming them a ‘misadventure’ and ordered the state government to hold off their implementation.
— Jairam Ramesh (@Jairam_Ramesh) July 8, 2019
The Congress’ Rajya Sabha MP said, “The ecological value of the Arvallis hardly need any emphasis. I urge the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change to take an uncompromising position on the protection of the Aravallis and ensure that the purchases made illegally are cancelled.”
Ramesh raising the issue in the parliament came weeks after Business Standard newspaper first reported how Ramdev’s Patanjali Ayurveda had violate the existing restrictions on sale of common lands in the Aravallis to procure around 400 acres in Kot village under more than 300 power-of-attorney agreements.