Neighbouring Context

Khori Gaon is an informal settlement (basti) at the border of Delhi and Haryana and the foothills of the Aravallis. It started developing on a post-quarry landscape in the 1970s. Quarrying started here in the 1950s and continued uninterrupted till the 1990s. Important to note here is that the Forest Conservation Act came into force in 1980. The land on which the basti stands displays irregular slopes, inaccessible pockets, vertical rockfaces, and deep pits. As a result, access has always been an issue. Khori Gaon is surrounded by commercial, hospitality and high-end residential developments, which are identified as located on the same deemed forest land. To its east are Taj Vivanta Hotel, Radha Swami Satsang Bhavan, Pinnacle Business Tower, Sarovar Portico hotel and to its south are the farmhouses and Suraj Kund Tourist Complex. To its north are the Delhi informal settlements Chungi 1, 2 and 3 in Lal Kuan. A wall built by the Forest Department separates the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary and Khori Gaon. It was constructed to provide legal protection to the ridge from further destruction from quarrying activity and to block the informal settlements’ residents from accessing it[1].

Fig 1. Khori Gaon and Neighbours (Source: Ishita Chatterjee)

The boundary of the forest and the border between the two cities, Delhi and Faridabad, are unmarked. The only territorial marker present is the stone wall built at the edge of the Asola Bhatti wildlife sanctuary to Khori Gaon’s west. Due to the absence of any border marker, the area between Delhi and Faridabad has been an ambiguous zone. This ambiguity has been exploited by the politicians of both states and by the land mafia, who sold the plots to the unknowing residents.

Located at the margins of two states, the forest and the city, Khori Gaon’s residents have lived with multiple vulnerabilities for years. In addition, they also endured the disproportionate impacts of the COVID pandemic. The demolition taking place in Khori Gaon currently, as per the Supreme Court’s orders[2] of  2020 and 2021, has literally been the last blow which has not only severely impacted the current residents but also undone the small, incremental improvements undertaken by multiple generations and driven them towards helplessness and poverty.

[1] Sinha, G. N. (2014). An introduction to the Delhi Ridge. Department of Forests and Wildlife, Govt. of NCT of Delhi, New Delhi, India.

[2] SC Orders Removal of 10,000 Residential Constructions on Aravali Forest Land (

[Note: This writeup appears as the Introduction chapter in the Public Hearing Report – Link]