No decision to declare areas outside cantonments as strategic areas: J&K govt.

Clarification comes after parties termed proposal an attempt to change demography

The J&K administration on Sunday clarified that there was no decision “to either transfer any new land or declare areas outside cantonments or army land as strategic”.

The clarification comes a day after the J&K’s regional parties, including the National Conference (NC) and the Peoples Democratic Party (PDP), described the recent proposal of amending the Control of Building Operations Act, 1988 and the J&K Development Act, 1970 as “an attempt to change demography and turn the entire region into a military establishment”.

“A few political parties are deliberately misleading people as if land is being transferred to armed forces and the entire J&K is being turned into a military establishment. All these are baseless comments,” said a J&K government spokesman in a statement.

Multiple issues

The spokesman said the decision has nothing to do with the transfer of any land to the armed forces. “The transfer, both acquisition or requisitions, continues to be governed by the existing law and the norms on the subject. There is no decision to either transfer any new land or declare areas outside cantonments or army land as strategic.”

However, the government said steps were taken because the defence forces have brought to the notice of the government that multiple issues keep commonly coming up in their infrastructure development activities, which are cumbersome and time-consuming and go against strategic interests.

“A special mechanism needs to be put in place for such strategic infrastructure needs. Whatever development takes place, especially when it is in the local areas of development authorities, it conforms to the overall developmental plan,” the spokesman said.

Within existing land

The government said notified “Strategic Areas” are within existing armed forces land.

“The special dispensation neither gives any powers to the armed forces to acquire more land in J&K nor does it allow them any unbridled powers, without observing environmental safeguards and Developmental Control Regulations of the Master Plan. It only facilitates fast tracking of the construction of strategic assets, in the overall national interest, while observing all norms,” the spokesman said.

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