Google Map images showing reduced green cover: Uttarakhand High Court stays construction in Jilling Estate

The Uttarakhand High Court stayed the construction in Jilling Estate as the Google Map images showed reduced green cover.


The Supreme Court, while passing the order dismissing the Civil Appeal, inter alia, directed that survey and demarcation be conducted within a period of 8 weeks from the date of the said order in respect of the area falling in three patches of the Jilling estate, wherein the density of forest appears to be 40% or more. 

The Court Commissioner has found that about 8.5 hectares out of the entire Estate, i.e. 36 hectares constituting Jilling Estate, appears to have a high density of forest cover in the range of 40% or more. 

The Supreme Court directed the conduct of survey and demarcation in terms of the direction contained in Clause (vi) of the conclusions drawn in the report of the Court Commissioner Bikram Singh Sajwan. 

The said demarcation was necessary to determine, whether the same would, eventually, be classified as “Deemed Forest” in terms of the judgment passed by the Supreme Court in T.N. Godavarman vs. Union of India and others; Lafarge Umiam Mining Pvt. Ltd. vs. Union of India and; Anand Arya and another vs. Union of India and others.


Counsel for respondent submitted that JCB machine was used for seven days only for the purpose of leveling the ground. Consequently, a fine of Rs. 4 Lacs was imposed for the unauthorized use of JCB machine, which has also been paid by the respondents or their Contractor.


The division bench of the Chief Justice Vipin Sanghi and Justice R.C. Khulbe noted that looking at Google Map pictures, prima facie evaluation is that these pictures show that even in the dense tree cover area, developmental activity has been undertaken as the roads / paths appear broader, clearly defined, and extended in their length. 

The bench directed a fresh inspection of the entire Jilling Estate to be conducted, so that a report is available for the Court to proceed further in the matter. 

It appointed Dvijendra Kumar Sharma, IFS as the Court Commissioner and directed that the Court Commissioner shall carry-out the local physical on-the-spot inspection and furnish a report before us, particularly stating as to whether respondent have carried-out any activity in the area admeasuring 8.5 hectares or thereabout, which may eventually be declared as a Deemed Forest.

Case title: Birendra Singh v/s Union of India and others

Citation: Writ petition (PIL) no. 44 of 2020 

Date: 23.11.2022

Click here to read the Order/Judgment 

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