Defence ministry raises eyebrows over misuse of its lands for years
The Ministry of Defence (MoD) is all set to raise the issues of its lands being misused across the country for years to prime minister Narendra Modi for further course of action against the violators.
Sources said the MoD has identified some of the Defence lands in Pune, Chennai and in Kolkata, which were misused by the Railways, private clubs and some units of Defence itself for several years without any action or initiative taken during the UPA rule to bring back the ‘encroached lands’.
Union defence minister Arun Jaitley reportedly had a meeting with the concerned officers of Defence Estates Officer (DEO) to prepare a draft report, which will be presented before the prime minister to discuss next course of action.
Jaitley, who is known for his out of the box thinking and got a nickname ‘Aji’ after becoming the defence minister in his department, wants to streamline most of the ‘mess’ within 100-days of target ‘reportedly’ set by Modi, for further discussion in the cabinet.
It was learnt that a defence land measuring 8.09 acres worth Rs 34.61 crore in Pune was given to Wellingdon Clubs since pre-independence era. However, the land was not returned back to DEO even after the club was closed.
Surprisingly, the local military authorities have allowed for the construction of a girl hostel and a shopping complex in the same piece of land in a gross violation of Defence rule. As per rule, the land should have been returned to the government of India after the closure of club but it was never happened.
Similarly, nearly 0.7829 acres of land worth Rs 9.29 crore was encroached by the Railways in Chennai for more than 25 years since 1988 without government sanction. The amount of rental was due for Rs 8.63 crore.
It was also discussed that several private and reputed clubs situated in Defence land on a lease basis at Kolkata in West Bengal were also found misusing the government property. In some cases unauthorized structure were constructed, while others have violated the lease agreement by non-payment of dues.
Considering a complete ‘ignorance by the previous minister’ in dealing with such crucial issues, the NDA government is planning to take some firm steps in revamping the ministry for the sake of India’s security through better coordinated governance, which was repeatedly stressed by Modi during his election campaign before coming to power.