Antony to De­fence

India Today - - MAIL - by San­deep Un­nithan

De­fence Min­is­ter A.K. Antony’s min­istry has been se­verely em­bar­rassed in the past two years by a se­ries of scan­dals re­volv­ing around the grab­bing of de­fence land like in Mum­bai’s con­tro­ver­sial Adarsh Hous­ing So­ci­ety. As part of a clean-up ex­er­cise, Antony ap­pointed a non-con­tro­ver­sial of­fi­cial Ashok Ku­mar Har­nal as di­rec­tor gen­eral to cleanse the depart­ment and has or­dered a speed-up of digi­ti­sa­tion of the de­fence es­tates depart­ment’s land records that has been on since 2006. Antony hinted at this drafted Bill when he in­formed a par­lia­men­tary stand­ing com­mit­tee about new poli­cies in the off­ing be­cause “vested in­ter­ests are ex­ploit­ing the gaps in the de­fence land”.

Of the 17.3 lakh acres of de- fence land, only two lakh acres or 11 per cent is lo­cated within the 62 can­ton­ments and is well-pro­tected. It is the re­main­ing 15.3 lakh acres that is ac­tu­ally vul­ner­a­ble. CBI in­ves­ti­ga­tions into the Adarsh Hous­ing So­ci­ety scam re­veal how builders, de­fence es­tates of­fi­cials and army per­son­nel col­luded to usurp de­fence land that fell out­side the Colaba mil­i­tary sta­tion.

The pro­posed De­fence Land Man­age­ment Act, 2011, a draft copy of which is with IN­DI­A­TO­DAY, ex­tends in am­bit ‘all de­fence lands sit­u­ated out­side the no­ti­fied can­ton­ments’.


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