PMO had okayed state govt proposal asking army to vacate land
By ZIA-UL-HAQ/ SHAFAT MIR
ANANTNAG: Army has not vacated the state land at the High Ground in Anantnag even though prime minister’s office had cleared the state government’s proposal desiring so.
Since the early 90s, the army had been occupying 458 kanals of state land.
A couple of days before the by poll for Anantnag assembly constituency, the PMO had consented to the state government’s proposal seeking return of the land to people and state.
Also, former chief minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed had in September 2015 told a civil-military liaison meeting that the land should be vacated at the earliest so that it could be handed over to Kashmir University for expansion of its south campus.
During a meeting on March 18 last year, governor NN Vohra also had directed top army officials to free the land by March 31. It was learnt that Lt General DH Hooda, chief of Northern Command, had agreed to vacate the land before the deadline.
Top officials of the army, divisional and district administration, following the directions of the former CM and governor, had visited the spot and demarcated the 456 kanals of land the army was supposed to vacate.
Eleven months have passed since the demarcation was carried out.
Sources in the revenue department said army’s refusal to vacate the land adjacent to the south campus has halted the process of the acquisition of the land.
“After the demarcation was done, army refused to vacate the land. They are asking us to acquire the land on the back side of the university campus, which will not serve any purpose,” said a revenue official posted in Anantnag.
He said the land the army was eyeing is private land and is currently sub judice.
“It will cost us about Rs 250 crore to acquire the proprietary land. We don’t have the money to acquire the land. Besides, its acquisition will consume years together as the matter is pending in the court. We are asking the army to vacate the land belonging to the estates department which is adjacent to the varsity campus but they refuse to do so,” the official said.
Actually, the army occupies more than 2000 kanals of land at the High Ground in Fatehgarh and Donipawa karewas, most of it belonging to locals.
Assistant commissioner revenue Syed Shabir Hussain said the army is willing to vacate the private land in Fatehgarh area.
“But we asked them to vacate the state land on the front side but they refuse to do so citing security reasons,” he said.
Sriagar based defence spokesman Rajesh Kalia, when contacted, said he had no information about the issue and asked this reporter to contact the Defence Estates Office.
An officer at DEO, Amarjeet Kour, said, “A board has been constituted that has asked the 15 Corps to furnish information about 76 kanals of land which is outside fencing. We have only last month asked them to reply if the land is under their use or not. Once we get their response we will go for further process.”