FPK News Desk
Srinagar: The Jammu and Kashmir government ordered transfer of 4.80 lakh kanal of State land in Ladakh to army for artillery practice.
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 to army came despite the assertions of the Chief Minister Mehbooba Mufti in the Legislative Assembly during the budget session 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 the state.
Mehbooba had said that army and paramilitary forces continued to occupy 1036 buildings across the state which also includes four schools and four colleges and a hostel under partial occupation of the forces.
In February 2014, the then chief minister Omar Abdullah had informed Legislative Assembly that 1856 buildings were under occupation of army and paramilitary forces after they had vacated 1468 of the 3324 occupied structures.
Omar had informed that out of the 2445 private buildings, only 919 were vacated while 267 pout of 547 government buildings were vacated till February 2014.
In March 2015, the ruling PDP-BJP government informed that 1307 private houses, 278 government buildings including educational institutions, 18 industrial units, five cinemas and 27 hotels continue to be under occupation of troops and paramilitary forces.
In 2014, Omar had also divulged that 66,690 kanals and 10 marlas of land was under unauthorized occupation of 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, a three month timeline had been set for the Army to vacate High Ground Anantnag.
Similarly, a three month deadline was set for the Army to vacate 139 acres of prime land at Tattoo Ground at Batamaloo that it has been occupying for decades.
Mufti 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.
In the meeting it was 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 ‘unauthorized’ 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.