The PDP-BJP Government has begun to re-notify the firing ranges for Army in Jammu and Kashmir over which lease has expired.
To start with, the State Home Ministry has authorized the Army to use one such area (on which the lease had expired) in Jammu province for the artillery practice.
According to a notification issued by the Home department, the state government has given its go-ahead to Army to carry out the artillery practice in Garhi area of Rajouri.
Under the Manoeuvres, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act 1938, the State government is empowered to authorize manoeuvres and military practices in a specified area after notifying it in official gazette.
"In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (2) of section 9 of the Manoeuvres, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir hereby authorizes the carrying out of the Field Firing and Artillery Practice throughout the areas notified under notification SRO- 450 dated 18-12-2015 for a period of 10 years with effect from the date of expiry of SRO 149 of 2004 dated 26th May 2004," reads SRO-451 issued on December 18.
The move comes at a time when Kashmir is up in arms against the Army's demand for notifying Bajpathri forest area—close to Yusmarg hill resort in central Kashmir's Budgam district—for its use as an artillery firing range.
The Army had taken up the issue during the Civil-Military Liaison Conference (CMLC) headed by Chief Minister Mufti Muhammad Sayeed in September this year.
The Army had sought notification of Bajpathri as an alternate site for setting up its firing range after the previous government headed by Omar Abdullah refused to extend lease of Tosamaidan firing range (also in Budgam district) in April 2014 following massive public outcry.
Pertinently, according to sources, in 2014 lease period of ten firing ranges in Jammu and Kashmir has expired.