THE GAME- CHANGERS
These are important battles... to save the Aravallis and the Okhlakhla Bird Sanctuary. On Independence day, Vandana Ramnani profiles cases with potential to change the real estate game
They are people who are just like you and me – who must have scrimped and saved to take on the burden of loans to buy their first homes. Today, tired of a system that usually does not favour underdogs, they have gone a step ahead of us and taken on the gauntlet to improve things. Their agenda is to have an impact on the public at large and to create a better world. We deserve it, at least after 68 long years of independence.
Take the case of Lt Col (Retd) Sarvadaman Oberoi, an RTI and legal activist, who must have sent letters and petitions to every person who matters in Haryana for two issues closest to his heart: protection of the Aravalli hills in Haryana and more clarity on the Apartment Ownership Act, rights of the owners.
The man who often repeats the sentence, “the Aravalli hills must be protected at any cost” is involved in a number of lawsuits. The government withdrew its decision on the first case related to preventing the fragmentation of the Aravalli hills, especially the two villages of Kot and Roj ka Gujar, due to faulty application of the Consolidation Act on non-agri- cultural Aravalli areas. The other case is related to privatised Aravalli commonlands in Mangar village that at include a large porrtion of the Mangar gar Bani sacred grove and was filed againstt real estate firms. Thiss matter is sub-judice.
Recently, he putut up a web petition to the chief minister of Haryana, asking him to protect the Aravalli hills. Within a few weeks, the plea attracted 5,000 on change.org. This, he says, is one of the many approaches to change the tide in favour of the Aravalli hills and the forests of Gurgaon and Faridabad. “I am a retired person and could have done well by simply hanging up my boots but I wanted to prove myself useful to the society at large, become a game-changer. Even if I don’t live long to reap the benefits of the work that I have done, I am sure at least my grandchildren will do so in the next three to four decades. At least, future generations would be able to enjoy the benefits of the changes that are finally introduced,” says Col Oberoi, a self-taught lawyer, who claims that he can be found in court every single day, attending to one matter or the other.
Col Oberoi has also filed a case relating to the Apartment Ownership Act in which he has sought to clarify the rights of owners, and enforce their implementation.
(Top) The Mangar Bani forest area and Lt Col (Retd) Sarvadaman Oberoi (with mike) addressing a gathering of homebuyers on the issue closest to his heart: protection of the Aravalli hills in Haryana. (Bottom) The Okhla Bird Sanctuary in Noida