SRINAGAR: The state government has “legally handed over five lakh kanals of land to the army for setting up its bases, firing ranges and for other defence purposes in Ladakh”, a Chandigarh-based newspaper reported.
Quoting Home department, the newspapers—The Tribune—said the army shall be setting up artillery firing range over 40,000 kanals at Mandal Thang in Leh district.
“We have given the approval to authorise 5 lakh kanals to the army in Ladakh for defence purposes, including establishing bases and firing ranges,” the report quoted the officials as saying, without mentioning his name.
As per the report, the deputy secretary, Revenue, Ghulam Rasool, said the process had been initiated to legally authorise to the army the land that was under the force’s unlawful possession.
The revenue department, the report said, wanted the army to either vacate the land acquired unlawfully or provide rent to the government.
After the army refused to vacate the land acquired unlawfully, the “state government gave in and asked it to take its lawful possession for seeking compensation,” the report said.
It said the army has also received approval from the state government for setting up an artillery firing range at Mandal Thang in Ladakh.
“The army had been demanding land for setting up an artillery firing range at Mandal Thang and their demand has been accepted,” the report quoted district development commissioner Leh, Prasnna Ramaswamy G, as saying.
Army’s firing ranges in Kashmir Valley have been a subject of debate, which started after the residents of central Kashmir’s Budgam district started demanding relocation of the artillery firing range at Tosmaidan.
The then-government subsequently set up a committee to identify the army an alternate site to be used for artillery training, but its decision, if already arrived at, wasn’t made official.
Reportedly, the army has been provided a “couple of alternatives” to Tosmaidan. The last week, the media reports suggested that Tragbal in Bandipora is going to be the new firing range.