Home Nonmilitary action What changes in the military field? Will civilians be able to buy liberated defense land?

What changes in the military field? Will civilians be able to buy liberated defense land?

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Defense land policy: In cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Ambala among others, the cantonment and station areas are almost at the heart of the cities

Faridkot military station in the Punjab. Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

The new Defense Lands Policy will bring for the first time in 250 years significant changes in the way defense lands are managed.

Why is this important? According to a Monycontrol report, Narendra Modi’s government approved new rules that would allow the development of infrastructure of equal value (EVI) for the armed forces in exchange for land they have acquired for public projects or other non-military activities.

The use of military land for non-military purposes has been banned since the establishment of the first cantonment at Barrackpore in Bengal in 1765 and no bungalow or cantonment area has been able to be sold or occupied by civilians since April 1801.

Under the new rules, eight EVI projects have been identified, for which the acquirer can provide infrastructure in coordination with the service concerned. the value of the land would be determined by a committee headed by the local military authority – in cases relating to cantonment areas. For land outside the cantonment, the district judge will decide the rate.

How big is defense real estate?

  • Due to its size and scope of operations, the defense forces require large tracts of land for training, ranges, depots, airfields, cantonments, campsites, offices, among others, for various military activities.
  • The Ministry of Defense owns a large tract of land of approximately 17.95 lakh acres, of which approximately 1.60 lakh acres are located in the 62 notified cantonments and approximately 16.35 lakh acres are outside these cantonments.
  • Responsibility for the day-to-day management of the land lies with the user departments. Among the three services, the army occupies nearly 80 percent of the territory.

When these cantonments and military posts were planned, most of them were on the outskirts of the city, but with increasing urbanization these areas are now part of the cities.

  • In cities like Delhi, Mumbai, Pune, Kolkata, Ambala among others, the cantonment and station areas are almost at the heart of the cities. There is little doubt that much of the defense land, both inside and outside the cantonments, is now prime real estate.

What are the gaps in the management of defense lands? A 2010 CAG Audit of Defense Estates Management found numerous irregularities in the handling of immovable property by the Ministry of Defense. Here are some of the main findings:

Sloppy application of land standards: According to a Controller and Auditor General of India’s Defense Estate Management Performance Audit, land requirement standards for different defense establishments were set in the Cantonment Planning Manual, 1947.

However, in 1972 the department imposed a 33 percent cut for all new stations and in 1991 it set new standards for key location plans. This meant a reduction of 41.8% from the 1947 land standards. However, these new land rules were not applicable to real estate acquired before 1972.

The new standards were applied when new land was needed for a new station and when expanding an existing defense facility. Significantly, by implementing the 1991 Ministry Order to incorporate a reduction in land requirements, 39 existing stations were found to hold excess land measuring 81,814.82 acres.

Discrepancies in land registers: The CAG found that at the 25 stations audited, the land area on record was either 12,769.86 acres higher in nine stations and 9,427.77 acres lower in the remaining stations.

The DGDE dropped the land audit system: Although the Director General of Defense submitted his first report in September 1995, he then slowly allowed the system to collapse.

Misuse of acquired land: A parliamentary standing defense committee found that 58,529 acres of acquired land was vacant. Of this number, 49,831 acres of land acquired between 1905 and 1990 had been vacant since its acquisition.

Delay in acquiring the land: The CAG found when examining 49 land acquisition cases that 15 cases were 15 years old, 12 cases 61 years old, 15 cases 11 to 20 years old and six cases over 20 years old. The status of a case has not been communicated.

Commercial exploitation of defense grounds: The CAG said that the commercial exploitation of defense lands often becomes very opaque, as the income generated from such an exercise is credited to the non-public fund (Regimental Fund), which is not under parliamentary control. He said there had been cases of commercial exploitation of defense lands and authorization of business complexes on such protected plots.

The use of defense lands for non-military purposes, such as golf courses, has come under scrutiny.

Abandoned land: The CAG audit indicated that an area of ​​25,888.81 acres had been surplus to the needs of the armed forces since 1980. The audit also found that no concrete measures had been taken to prevent encroachment on the military. defense lands.

CAG’s scathing assessment: The CAG attacked the Ministry of Defense heavily for the poor maintenance of the real estate it owned.

“During the audit it was noticed that the lines of responsibility and therefore accountability were blurred and in many aspects of the management of Defense Estates no agency accepted responsibility … correctly records and transfer of land in the possession of services and others in favor of defense authorities, ”indicates the CAG report.

What are the laws governing the management of military land?

There are a multitude of laws which assist the Ministry of Defense in the administration, control and management of military land. Here are some of them:

  • Acquisition of land for defense purposes under Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
  • Urban Ceilings Act and its implementation in the cantonment area.
  • Requisition and acquisition of properties for defense services under the Defense Act of India, 1962 and the rules established under it:
    (a) Cantonment Land Administration Rules, 1937 (CLA Rules);
    (b) Rules of Acquisition, Custody and Release, 1944;
    (c) Defense Works Act, 1903;
    (d) Questions concerning the revision of land tenure standards.
    (e) Land military manual.
    (f) Removal of delegation of authority to classify A-2 and B-4 lands as “A-1”.