May 2016 News

Army's Clear 'no' To Vacation Of Land Without Getting Alternate

6 May 2016
The Daily Excelsior
Sanjeev Pargal

Jammu: Army has taken a major and bold decision on vacation of Government land at various places in Jammu and Kashmir by declaring that it would vacate the land at particular places, where it was being asked to do so, only if it was provided alternate land by the State on the ground that it can't work by vacating land after land in the State, where it not only had to defend the borders with hostile neighbours like China and Pakistan but also maintain law and order on some occasions. The Army has also deputed a delegation from the Northern Command, headquartered at Udhampur, headed by a senior Army officer to Army Headquarters in New Delhi to work out the options for handing of Army land in hinterland in time-bound manner but with a rider that it would get alternate land from the State. 'That is the only condition under which Army would hand over any Defence land to the State Government,' official sources told the Excelsior. Noting that presently, the Northern Command of the Army has been asked to vacate 2493.77 kanals of land in all three regions of the State including Jammu, Kashmir and Ladakh, sources said the Army has put rider in vacation of land at all places that it should get equal land from the State Government at alternate places. Presently, the Army has been asked to vacate 1710.77 kanals of land at Tattoo Grounds, 297 kanals land at Wuzur and 220 kanals land at Kalsar, all areas falling in the Kashmir valley, 136 kanals of land at Jammu Airport and 130 kanals land at Leh. Apart from this, it has also been asked to vacate the land at Jammu University, which falls under the Western Command. The Government has also asked the Army to vacate Kargil plateau for township. Sources said the high level delegation of the Northern Army Command, which was camping at Army Headquarters in New Delhi, will seek suggestions from top brass of the Army Headquarters on J&K Govern-ment's insistence that Army should vacate land at some places without getting an alternate. They pointed out that the high level delegation will stress on the Army Headquarters to take up demand with the Defence Ministry for giving Army in Jammu and Kashmir equal land, which it was being asked to vacate. Asserting that handing over of 139 acres Tattoo Ground to the State Government was still pending with Ministry of Defence, sources said Army has been pressing for regularization of land in Gulmarg in place of Tattoo Ground. Army has also asked for Tragbal meadows in Bandipora for firing range in lieu of Tosa Maidaan as Army already has 200 hectares at Tragbal and now wants its expansion. 'The Army also wants correction in the State Government records, which showed that Army has 8.42 lakh kanals of land in their possession while Army claimed that it has only 5.7 lakh kanals land with them in the State,' sources said. According to sources, the Army was of the view that it has an uphill task of defending the borders in Jammu and Kashmir with two hostile neighbours like China and Pakistan, especially the latter, which continued to facilitate infiltration attempts by the dreaded militants from the Line of Control (LoC). 'Not only the troops had to defend the borders, they also had to fight the militants in hinterland apart from dealing with law and order situation also on many occasions,' they said, adding in such a scenario, how can the troops operate without having adequate land for keeping the soldiers and training them in the firing ranges. Three Corps were operating under the Northern Command within Jammu and Kashmir including 16 Corps at Nagrota, 15 Corps in Srinagar and 14 Corps in Leh. Apart from this, 9 Corps is headquartered at Yol Cantonment in Himachal Pradesh under the Western Command, which looks after three border districts of Jammu, Samba and Kathua in Jammu region. Already, the Army, sources said, was suffering after vacation of Tosa Maidaan in Kashmir and Kaleeth in Jammu as Field Firing Ranges as it had to send some of its troops outside the State for firing practices, which consumes lot of time. The Government has recently allotted Army the space for firing range in Nowshera.