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Denial of land hits army’s preparedness

india Updated: Mar 24, 2011 00:12 IST
Arun Joshi
Arun Joshi
Hindustan Times
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The Indian Army is facing problems in the sensitive border region of Ladakh because of the Jammu and Kashmir government’s denial of permission to acquire land.

State revenue minister Raman Bhalla has, however, said the army had not been “denied permission to acquire land, except in areas where there are local concerns”, a reference to locals objecting to the army camps as it restricts them from visiting pasturelands.

The Command told HT over e-mail that there had been a “delay in getting the land, ratified by the state government, under physical occupation of the army, especially in Ladakh region.”

The army plans to station troops, build ammunition dumps, bases for helicopters and unmanned aerial vehicles, logistic support areas and communication hubs along the Line of Actual Control (LAC) with China. This facility will reduce its dependency on the Srinagar-Leh road and the newly laid road from Drass in Kargil to Bandipore via Gurez in the Valley, which remain closed for almost half a year due to heavy snow.

Requesting anonymity, a senior district official of Leh, however, told HT, “There is a procedure to acquire land. The army has to come through the estates wing of the defence ministry, instead of just coming and taking possession of the land and causing inconvenience to locals.”

According to him, “the army owes about Rs20,000 crore to the state government on account of rent and the land cost.” “Yet another problem is that when the army moves close to the LAC, it stops people from

going to the forward places, causing alienation. Locals use the 22,000 sq. km area as pastureland and most of the population here is nomadic,” the officer said.

The army admitted that there was “paucity of funds”, but maintained that it had been paying rent for the land under its occupation and had paid compensation for the acquired land if it was a private property.