Arundhati Roy's Pachmarhi house declared illegal

Writer-activist Arundhati Roy on Tuesday lost a crucial battle to save her bungalow in Pachmarhi, the picturesque hill station in Madhya Pradesh.

A sub-divisional magistrate held that the plot on which the bungalow was built in the 1990s is a notified forest area, where sale or purchase of property is banned.

SDM (Piparia) B Kirangopal told The Indian Express that Section 18 of the Forest Act allows only hereditary passage of ownership.

The writer's filmmaker husband Pradeep Kishan had purchased the plot in Bariam in the early 1990s, from a villager. The couple visits the bungalow once in a while.

Aradhana Seth, sister of author Vikram Seth, was among three other owners who were also given notices by the deputy tehsildar, saying the properties were illegal.

The four had challenged the order in the Madhya Pradesh High Court, saying that the bungalows stood on revenue land and not forest land. The high court recently asked the petitioners to go through a proper channel, which meant they had to file an appeal before the SDM (Piparia).

The owners were represented by their lawyer before the SDM, who rejected their appeals.

Now they can file an appeal before the Hoshangabad Divisional Commissioner. If they do not, the Piparia administration will have to decide on the next course like demolition once the forest department approaches it.

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