Scams tarnished army's image, says AK Antony
Noting that land scams such as Sukna and Adarsh Society have projected armed forces in a "bad" light, Defence Minister AK Antony today said policies would be framed to bar local military authorities from directly issuing 'no objection certificates' to private realtors.delhi Updated: Feb 02, 2011 20:10 IST
Noting that land scams such as Sukna and Adarsh Society have projected armed forces in a "bad" light, Defence Minister AK Antony on Wednesday said policies would be framed to bar local military authorities from directly issuing 'no objection certificates' to private realtors.
Addressing a meeting of the Parliamentary Consultative Committee, he said the scams have exposed the "gaps" in the defence land management system and their records will be computerised.
"The Defence Ministry will shortly be framing policies covering the issue of NOCs... No NOC would be issued, especially to private builders directly by the Local Military Authorities (LMAs)," he said.
The recent Sukna, Kandivali and Adarsh land scams related to issuing of NOCs by local military commanders to private realtors and have led the ministry to change its policies for granting permission for construction on defence land or in areas adjacent to military stations.
The Defence Minister, who maintained that the land scams have projected the armed forces in "bad" light, said a policy is also being framed for cases where the local laws require consultation with local military authorities for construction of buildings on lands adjacent to defence installations.
Antony said the Works of Defence Act, which provides for restrictions on building activity around defence installations, would be amended to make it relevant to present day situations.
"The Act has not been amended for the last over 100 years. The government is also looking at the de-hiring policy to avert any misuse," he said.
The minister said after the scams, the ministry is giving top priority to computerisation of the records of the 17 lakh acres of land under it as "without computerisation, it will be difficult to manage our vast land records."
He said a number of decisions have been taken by the ministry regarding land management and proper storage of important title-related records.
Elaborating on the difficulties in defence land management, Antony said under the Constitution of India, land is a state subject and if for a particular piece of land the ownership records tally both in ministry records and state records, there is no problem.
"But in some instances, this is not so. Moreover, vested interests lose no time in exploiting gaps in the system," he said.
After the scams surfaced, the Army had to change its policy for issuing NOCs and had made it mandatory for LMAs to seek permission from their superior authorities before granting any permission.
In the meeting, the parliamentarians suggested that the Defence Ministry should physically survey the land under its control besides undertaking computerisation of records.
MPs Murli Manohar Joshi, Manish Tiwari, Gajanan Dharmshi Babar, Shivaji Adhalrao Patil, Brij Bhushan Sharan Singh, Kailkesh N Singhdeo, Lalit Mohan Suklabaidya, Gopal Singh Shekhawat, Shivanand Tiwari and Janardhan Waghmare attended the meeting.
Minister of State for Defence MM Pallam Raju, Defence Secretary Pradeep Kumar, DRDO chief VK Saraswat and Director General Defence Estates Ashok Harnal were also present.