New Delhi : At a time when the defence ministry is struggling with the fallout of the Sukna land scam, a parliamentary panel has lamented that 3,780 leases signed for defence land have not been renewed but the lessees, who were now “trespassers”, had not been evicted.
“This has resulted in non-recovery of substantial amount of rent and premium of several crores of rupees and loss of interest, the exact value of which was yet to be assessed,” the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) said in its report tabled in parliament.
It was also “dismayed” to note that while the annual rent received by the defence ministry for its leased land was Rs.213 crore, its market value was a whopping Rs.11,033 crore.
Of the unrenewed cases, 2,993 were more than 10 years old — some even stretching back 36 years, 437 were 6-10 years old, 267 were 2-5 years old and 83 were a year old, the committee, headed by Gopinath Munde of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), said.
The area of the land involved is 2,500 acres and this has been leased to both private and public parties.
Noting that the system of lease execution of defence land “is afflicted with systematic loopholes”, the committee said of the expired leases, requests for renewals in 899 cases “but no proper followup action has been received”.
In 1,800 cases where no request for lease renewal was received, these “have not been pursued vigorously for eviction of the lessees, who have since become trespassers on defence land”, the committee said, adding the defence ministry had not submitted a status report on the remaining 1,081 cases.
The committee said it was “constrained to note” that the defence ministry was “yet to put in place a systematic mechanism” for streamlining the lease execution and renewal process and termed this “a serious lacunae” that required the ministry’s “immediate/urgent attention”.
It also asked the ministry to “furnish detailed information regarding followup action taken on all cases where the request for lease renewal was received” and also the action taken in the remaining cases “along with the reasons for non-initiation of any appropriate action wherever necessary”.
Two lieutenant generals, both of whom have since retired, are facing court martial for illegalities in leasing defence land in the Sukna cantonment in West Bengal.