New Delhi: Allaying members` concerns in the
Rajya Sabha over encroachment of defence land in various parts
of the country, Government today assured them that it will
take stringent action to evict encroachers.
Defence Minister A K Antony told the House that the
government was examining the issue of construction of the
31-storey Harsiddhi Heights, a high-rise situated on Worli
Seaface in Mumbai, and promised to "take action".
Replying to a supplementary, Antony said, "...after
examining the whole case, we will take action."
The Mumbai high court has ordered an interim stay on
further sale of flats and induction of occupants in the
controversial high rise after the Indian Navy opposed the
construction due to its close proximity to a naval base. The
tower will overlook naval installations in the area, including
Antony acknowledged that encroachment of of defence land
is a reality in some states due to historical reasons but
assured that the government was now taking "strict action" to
change the course.
He said that to do away with the problem of identification
of the defence land in civil areas in states, the ministry is
carrying out computerisation of the land records and the
exercise will be completed before March 31.
"11,000 acres of land is encroached out of the total 17.31
lakh acres defence land. In the last ten years, the number of
encroachment has, however, become very less in comparison to
what it was in past...we have taken very stringent measures,"
Antony said the Centre with the help of state governments
was making efforts to rehabilitate thousands of people who
have been occupying the Naval land in Mumbai for long.
Rajiv Shukla (Cong)wanted to know what steps the
government was taking to retrieve the defence land already
Another Congress member V Hanumantha Rao said the defence
land has been given on lease to private parties, who are using
it for commercial purposes by constructing over a dozen
marriage halls in Andhra Pradesh and wanted to know whether
the ministry will cancel such leases.
Replying to it, Minister of State for Defence Pallam Raju
said these were old bungalows where land is given for
residential purposes. "In some cases, there is misuse for
commercial purposes. We are looking into it."