Parliament panel to examine defence land management


New Delhi: A parliamentary committee, headed by Congress MP Satpal Maharaj, will examine the functioning of the military cantonments and management of defence land in the backdrop of a series of real estate scams that hit the armed forces in the last couple of years.

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“The Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence has decided to examine various aspects related to the subject ‘Functioning of Military Cantonments and Stations’ and ‘Management of Defence Land’,” a parliament press communique said here Monday.

The committee also invited suggestions and opinions of the people, experts, professional, organisations, associations and stake-holders on the subject within two weeks. The memoranda submitted to the committee would form part of the records and will be treated as strictly confidential.

The defence ministry and the armed forces have been hit by a series of land scams such as the Sukna military station case in West Bengal, the Adarsh Housing Society in Mumbai and the Kandivali land case in Mumbai outskirts.

An army court martial had last week convicted Lieutenant General P.K. Rath in the scam at Sukna, where a 70-acre plot of land was transferred to a private realtor to construct an educational institution in 2008. Retired military secretary Lieutenant General Avadesh Prakash is facing a court martial in the same case and it is expected to convene soon.

The 31-storey Adarsh Housing building came up on army land in Colaba in Mumbai, raising security concerns of military establishments in the vicinity. The CBI has named former Maharashtra chief minister Ashok Chavan and several retired and serving military officers in its FIR in the Adarsh case.

The Kandivali case involves transfer of a Central Ordnance Depot land to a private firm to construct a multi-storeyed residential apartment complex.

Following these cases, the defence ministry has decided to tighten the screw on no-objection certificates (NOC) for defence lands so that lower-rung officials cannot misuse the system. The army too has taken away the powers to issue NOC from lower formations and vested it with army commands.