Land scams may hit security: IAF chief
At a time when the armed forces are reeling under an onslaught of land scandals, IAF chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne on Monday said such scams opened up new issues of security. Rahul Singh reports.delhi Updated: Oct 04, 2011 12:21 IST
At a time when the armed forces are reeling under an onslaught of land scandals, Indian Air Force chief Air Chief Marshal NAK Browne on Monday said such scams opened up new issues of security.
Browne said the military didn't view the scandals just as land-related issues, but a question of security.
The air chief's comments come on the heels of an HT report on the findings of a defence ministry probe, which uncovered a Rs 1,500-crore land scandal in the border state of Jammu and Kashmir that could have serious security implications.
The probe found that private parties were allowed to buy more than 200 acres near high-security military installations in Srinagar on the basis of no-objection certificates (NoCs) that were granted fraudulently.
"There were some defence estates officials who had issued adhoc NoCs. A high-powered defence ministry team had gone there to look into the matter," Browne said at a news conference ahead of IAF's 79th anniversary on October 8.
As first reported by HT, defence minister AK Antony has asked the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to probe the scam, which involved collusion among officials of the defence estates department and state government and land sharks who got together to sell defence land.
More than 70 NoCs issued by the defence estates department during the last four years are being looked into.
The NoCs said the defence ministry had never acquired the land, contrary to records that show that the government bought the land in the 1960s.
Browne said the air force land scattered across five pockets in Srinagar was fenced and secured.
"No one in the IAF is empowered to give NoCs to transfer land," he said.
The first head has already rolled in the Srinagar land scam, more are on the block. The ministry has suspended defence estates officer, Srinagar circle.
Browne said that management of defence land was the responsibility of the directorate general of defence estates.
Earlier this year, a string of land scandals saw Antony bar local authorities from issuing NoCs barring extraordinary circumstances, a step aimed at eliminating the possibility of shady land deals.
Browne also flagged concerns over the construction of high-rise buildings on the fringes of air force bases such as the ones in Pune and Bareilly.
He said such structures made air bases vulnerable by making them more visible.