Home deptt passes order for using land in Leh for artillery practice
Srinagar, March 09: The Jammu and Kashmir government ordered transfer of 4.80 lakh kanal of State land in the cold desert region of Ladakh for use of artillery practice for army.
The State government’s Home department under SRO 93, in exercise of powers conferred by sub-section (1) of section (9) of the Maneuvers, Field Firing, and Artillery Practice Act, 1938, declared the area measuring 4.80 lakh kanal situated at Mandalthang, Shayok under Khasra No. 1803 located in Durbuk sub division in Leh district as an area for use of artillery practice for troops for a period of 5 years from March 6, 2017.
The decision of the government to transfer the State land for the use of army comes despite the assertions of the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in the Legislative Assembly during the budget session in Jammu earlier this year that Government of India (GoI) as well as the State government had issued directions from time to time for vacation of all government and private buildings and land under occupation of the troops and paramilitary forces in Jammu Kashmir.
At that time, the chief minister had said that army and paramilitary forces continued to occupy 1036 buildings across the State of which four schools and four colleges and a hostel were partially under their occupation.
In February 2014, then chief minister Omar Abdullah had informed LA that 1856 buildings were under occupation of army and paramilitary forces after they had vacated 1468 of the 3324 occupied structures.
Omar had said that out of the 2445 private buildings, only 919 were vacated while 267 were vacated of the 547 government buildings till February 2014.
In March 2015, the ruling Peoples Democratic Party-Bharatiya Janata Party government informed that 1307 private houses, 278 government buildings including educational institutions, 18 industrial units, five cinemas and 27 hotels continued to be occupied by troops and paramilitary forces.
In 2014, Omar had also divulged that 66,690 kanal and 10 marals of land was under the unauthorised occupation of the troops and paramilitary forces and that no rent had been paid to the land owners against the use of occupied land.
In January last year, the government constituted a three-member high-powered committee to monitor the decisions taken at a Civil-Military Liaison Conference on 29 September 2015, relating to occupation of land by troops at Gulmarg, High Ground Anantnag, Tattoo Ground, Khurbathang-Kargil, Jammu Airport and University Campus Jammu.
In the CML meeting, chaired by former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed, three months’ timeline had been set for the Army to vacate High Ground Anantnag.
Similarly, three months deadline was set for the Army to vacate 139 acres of prime land at Tattoo Ground at Batamaloo that it has been occupied for decades.
Sayeed had called for delinking the vacation of land from all other issues to enable the government to develop basic facilities at the ground in the heart of Srinagar in the interest of the general public.
The meeting had also agreed to direct a high-level committee, constituted to work out the modalities for transfer of the 175.64 acres of land under the ‘unauthorised’ occupation of the Army at Gulmarg, in lieu of the land to be exchanged for the Tattoo Ground.
In fact, the decision to constitute the panel was taken at the CML conference chaired by then chief minister Omar Abdullah in November 2013.
The CML conference had also taken decision regarding vacation of Lower Khurbathong by the Army in Kargil.
Regarding the issue of 182,865 kanal of land with the army in Ladakh, it had decided that the Army and the civil administration would reconcile figures so that further course of action could be initiated in the matter.