In a significant development, the Indian Army on Thursday decided to vacate huge portions of land held by it close to civilian habitations in Jammu and Kashmir and hand over the possession to the state government.
An official statement issued here said that "in extensive discussions" with Northern Command chief Lt Gen DS Hooda at Raj Bhavan on Thursday, Governor NN Vohra reviewed the implementation of decisions taken in earlier civil military liaison conferences on all land matters relating to the army. It was agreed that the Northern Command would hand over 16.30 acres adjoining the Jammu University campus, 212 acres at Tatoo Grounds in Srinagar, 456.60 kanals at High Grounds in Anantnag, and also land held at lower Khurba Thang in Kargil.
The land at Khurba Thang would be taken over before March 31 when the chief secretary visits Kargil. "Regarding the Tatoo Ground land, the governor and army commander will jointly visit the site, before March 31, to also discuss certain proposals regarding the utilisation of this land for creating a park, recreational facilities for youth etc.," the statement said.
The governor directed that the committee headed by the chief secretary will visit Jammu University, Kargil and Anantnag to fulfill all formalities on the spot and take over the sites. Vohra also arrived at an understanding with the army commander over the location of high altitude warfare school (HAWS) in Gulmarg. He will have a further meeting with Hooda.
"The meeting also discussed issues relating to the notification of firing ranges at various places. It was decided that the chief secretary shall pursue the pending issues with the ministry of defence, particularly regarding the enhancement of the scales of rent payable for the required areas of land." The demand to vacate these lands was high on the list of PDP president Mehbooba Mufti to pave the way for her heading the PDP-BJP coalition government in the state.