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BJP MP opposes Army`s firing range expansion plans in Pokharan

PTI | Last Updated: Sunday, July 20, 2014 - 14:02

New Delhi: Army`s plan to further expand its field firing range in Pokharan, Jaisalmer is facing opposition from the local BJP MP who claims this would lead to second time displacement of thousands of families from the area, which houses Asia`s largest weapon testing facility.

In a letter to Defence Minister Arun Jaitley, BJP`s Jodhpur MP Gajendra Singh Shekhawat said majority of the land to be acquired under the range expansion plans is fertile irrigated land and suggested that the Army could expand its range in the nearby Shahgarh Bulge area, which is "barren and totally deserted".
"The Army has been seeking land of the nearby villages of the firing range for expansion and surveys have been conducted for the acquisition of land. The survey by the local authorities suggests that one more time, thousands of villagers and their cattle would be forced to be displaced one more time and go through the pain suffered by their earlier generations," the MP said.

Shekhawat said 13 villages had to be displaced fully and partially when the range was established 45-50 years ago and "the same families have been able to return to the mainstream after so many years and they may be displaced for the second time."
He requested Jaitley to "feel the pain of these people from border areas and to protect them from these sufferings. Please consider our request with a humanitarian approach and save our future generations from these sufferings."

Shekhawat said the firing range was equally important and, "If the range is expanded in the Shahgarh Bulge area, my people from these areas will not have to suffer this inhuman tragedy."

The Pokharan field firing range is is spread over 750 square miles and India carried out both its nuclear tests in this facility.

The Army also uses the range to carry out its winter and summer exercises in the firing range which is close to the international border with Pakistan.

First Published: Sunday, July 20, 2014 - 14:02

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