Army gets Shariefabad land in lieu of Tatoo Ground, keeps both

DECISIONS TAKEN AT CIVIL-MILITARY LIAISON CONFERENCE AWAIT IMPLEMENTATION

HAVE THE CAKE AND EAT IT TOO

SHABIR IBN YUSUF

Srinagar, Apr 3: While the state government is ‘inefficaciously’ struggling to retrieve from Army around 1000 kanals of prime land at Tatoo Ground to develop much-needed recreational facility in the choked south city, the Defense Ministry seems to be in no hurry to vacate the said land despite taking possession of 1622 kanals of land at Shariefabad and Hanjik in lieu of the land at Tatoo Ground.
As per official documents in possession of Greater Kashmir, around 139 acres (1112 kanals) of land at Tatoo Ground in Batamaloo area of Srinagar city is under the use of the Army since decades. On the request of the state government, the Army in 1982 released around 21 acres (168 kanals) of the said land for the development of General Bus Stand Batamaloo.
As per records, Army continues to use the remaining 118 acres (944 kanals) of land at Tatoo Ground, out of which 93.20 acres (745.6 kanals) are located on the left side of Srinagar-Baramulla highway stretching from Bemina/Batamaloo to Haft Chinar on IG Road while 24.14 acres (193.12 kanals) are on the right side of the Srinagar-Baramulla highway in Chattabal/Qamarwari area. While the land on the Batamaloo side is being used as a transit camp, the land on Chattabal/Qamarwari side is being used as a cattle farm by the army. As per a communication dating back to 1989, the state government had, as a part of the plan to decongest the city, asked the Union Defense Ministry to shift the Army installations from Tatoo Ground. The Defense Ministry, in its reply vide no. A/511120/Q31(North)181/31/DL dated: 22-02-1990, set certain preconditions for vacation of the said land.
The Defense Ministry sought 212 acres (1696 kanals) of land at Shariefabad/Damodar Karewa in lieu of 1112 kanals of land at Tatoo Ground. It also laid down the precondition that the land at Tatoo Ground will be vacated only after the Army takes over the possession of 1696 kanals of land at Shariefabad/Damodar Karewa and raises the requisite assets there. As per another condition, the cost of Army assets at Tatoo Ground was to be paid by J&K government on the basis of joint evaluation by the state government and the Defense Ministry.
As per DC Budgam’s communication no. DCB/SO/2011/525-30 dated: 11-08-2011 addressed to Principal Secretary Home Department, the Army has, in lieu of the land at Tatoo Ground, already taken over possession of 1622 kanals of land at Shariefabad and Hanjik, out of which 1073 kanals of land have been mutated in favour of the Ministry of Defense while the remaining 548 kanals of land are under “unauthorized occupation of the Kilo Force of the Army”. As the DC Budgam’s communication, the said land is in possession of the Army since 1991 with massive infrastructure having been developed by the troops over it.
Despite having taken possession of alternate land at Shariefabad and Hanjik in exchange of Tatoo Ground land, the Army continues to hold on to the prime land at Tatoo Ground as well, in the proverbial “have the cake and eat it too” style.
Although the matter regarding vacation of Tatoo Ground by the Army was raised several times with the Ministry of Defense and the local army authorities, but there seems to be no movement forward on the issue.
However, the Army’s contention is that it is yet to get possession of the entire 212 acres (1696 kanals) of land that was to be given to it in lieu of the Tatoo Ground. “Army’s claim is that it has got possession of only 107 acres (864 kanals) of land at Shariefabad in lieu of Tatoo Ground land with the balance 105 acres still to be handed over by the state government to it,” a senior Revenue officer dealing with the issue told Greater Kashmir.
Pertinently, given the Army’s counterclaim regarding the outstanding land with the state government, the matter was discussed in the Civil-Military Liaison conference held under the chairmanship of the Chief Minister Omar Abdullah on 19 November 2009. It was decided in the meeting that pending final settlement of the issue, the Army cattle farm at Tatoo Ground on Chattabal side comprising 193 kanals should be handed-over to the state administration immediately. The meeting further decided that “the demand of the Army for the balance area of land agreed to be given in lieu of Tatoo Ground will be discussed as also the compensation for the structures. It was agreed that both sides need to sit together and work-out a suitable compromise solution within a stipulated timeframe.”
Curiously, the Army has not even adhered to the decision of the Civil-Military liaison conference regarding handing over the cattle farm to the state administration.
Meanwhile, following the decision reached at the Civil-Military liaison conference on claims of the district administration Budgam and counter claims by the Army over actual area of land under possession of the Army at Shariefabad,  a committee was constituted by the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir vide order no. Divcom/LAC-ACQ/9/3-Bud/701 dated: 23-12-2009.
The committee, according to sources, has made the demarcation of the land and submitted its report to the Divisional Commissioner Kashmir.
When contacted Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Shailendra Kumar said he will take up the matter with General Officer Commanding, 15 Corps and there will be tangible action on the issue soon. “They (Army) should not be having any hurdle/problem in handing over the Tatoo Ground land to civilian authorities as they have been provided with alternate land,” he said and added that he will personally follow-up on the matter so that the land is restored to the civilian authorities at the earliest.
Udhampur based Public Relations Officer (PRO) Ministry of Defense, Lt Col Rajesh Kalia told Greater Kashmir that Army will look into the matter.
According to town planning experts, if vacated, Tatoo Ground could be developed as an extended public park with allied recreational and sports facilities to cater to the needs of the mounting population of Srinagar.

IF Army Has Been Provided Alternate Land, I Fail To Understand Why They Are Not Handing-Over Tatoo Ground To The Civilian Authorities. I Will Take Up The Matter With The General Officer Commanding Of Army’s 15 Corps And There Will Be Tangible Action On The Issue Soon


SHAILENDRA KUMAR
Divisional Commissioner Kashmir

Lastupdate on : Wed, 3 Apr 2013 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Wed, 3 Apr 2013 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Thu, 4 Apr 2013 00:00:00 IST




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