New Delhi: The number of firing ranges with the Army is shrinking every year due to encroachments, unauthorised occupation and land rights of state governments, Defence Minister AK Antony said Monday.
"Yes," he said, when asked in a written query in Lok Sabha whether due to urbanisation, encroachment, unauthorised occupation and land rights of the state governments, the land for firing ranges with the armed forces was shrinking every year.
The Minister said the out of the 104 firing ranges held by the Army in 2009, "38 were deleted from the list due to they not being available for use by Army and also not being re-notified by State Governments concerned in spite of relentless efforts".
"Out of the remaining 66 firing ranges of Army, 15 are currently de-notified by various state governments. As regards the IAF and the Navy, no ranges have been denotified," he said.
Antony said all possible efforts are being made by his ministry at all levels to get more ranges for the force.
He informed that a total of 10 deaths have been reported while unauthorised collection of metal scrap by civilians from field firing ranges.
Meanwhile, in reply to another query, the Defence Minister said usage of pen drives on Internet computers has been banned as a policy in the force due to the "inherent security threat" posed by them.
He said a cyber security policy is under implementation in the Ministry which provides for strengthening of cyber security activities and maintaining of air gaps.