The Work of Defence Act 1903 states that 900 metres around an ammunition depot should be kept free of construction activities to ensure the safety of life and property. But many houses and other properties have come up within the restricted area around the Air Force Ammunition Depot at Old Delhi Road in Gurgaon.
Now, acquiring the land is the only way the state government can solve this problem.
The depot was established in the 1960s. At the time of its establishment, the Gurgaon deputy commissioner should have issued a notification, envisaging the provisions of the act, to the public.
As per the act, the area can be used only for agriculture purposes. Besides, the master Plan for Gurgaon, which is regulated by the Punjab Schedule Road and Controlled Areas Act 1963, provides for plantation of commercial forestry in this area.
The deputy commissioner and the district town planner (enforcement) have failed to stop unauthorised constructions here. The situation is serious as many houses have come up in the area and considering demolition can invite trouble.
For owners of the land, the returns on their holdings from farming or forestry are negligible. So, many want they should be granted permission to use the land for residential or commercial purposes.
On the other hand, shifting the depot to some other place is impractical. Besides, the Ministry of Defence has always declined the proposal. The cost of acquiring land for the depot or shifting it would be much more than acquiring plots in the zone.
After acquiring it, the government can create a water body on the 900-metre radius to impound rain water which flows into Nazafgarh drain. Such a water body will also beautify the city, besides being a recharge source for the depleting subsoil water level.
Taking in account technological advancements, it is possible to create such a reservoir, which is the need of the hour.
(RP Nadar is a retired wing commander. He lives in Sector 15, part-1, Gurgaon)