New Delhi: Against the backdrop of defence land scams, the Defence Estates Organisation (DEO) has started digitizing and modernising land records available with the Cantonment Boards across the country.
The "Annual Administration Report of Cantonment Boards" was tabled in Parliament on Monday where the DEO has given details of steps taken by it for management of land records and modernisation in their maintenance.
In the last few years, the Defence establishment has been hit by several land scams, including Sukna, Kandivili in Mumbai, Pune and Srinagar, after which the government initiated several measures to streamline the functioning of DEO and maintenance of land records available with it.
In order to implement government directives, DEO has developed a software "Raksha Bhoomi" to digitize the records and maps of defence land. The advance version of the software was launched recently.
The digitized data and maps were also provided to all the Cantonment Boards to verify their existing records and on-ground position to check illegal encroachment of defence land.
The report gave details of the steps taken in this regard in each of the 62 Cantonment Boards. It also gave the revenue, expenses and property tax details of all cantonments.
"Unlike municipal bodies, Cantonment Boards do not have capacity to increase local revenue due to restrictions on permitting commercial activities, construction activities and rigid land use."
The central government alloted Rs 134.91 crore as service charges during 2010-11 as against the current demand of Rs 1057 crore, said the report
"Cantonment Boards, which have deficit budget, were sanctioned Grant-in-Aid of Rs 112.13 crore enabling them to sustain only minimum level of mandatory public service," it added.
To bear the pay, arrears in salary and pension, an additional grant of Rs 86.68 crore was sanctioned to 44 Cantonment Boards during the year, the report said.
It also said though the Cantonment Boards are considered as `Deemed Municipalities` under the provision of Cantonment Act 2006, these are not getting the benefits under the central and state-sponsored development and social welfare schemes.
"The 13th Central Finance Commission has recommended that the Development Plan for the civilian areas within the Cantonment (excluding the areas which are under the active control of the forces) be brought before the District Planning Commission," the report said.
The step would enable integration of water supply and sewage schemes under Jawaharlal Nehru National Urban Renewal Mission (JNNURM) for its extension to Cantonments.
On steps taken to create a sound education system within the Boards, the report said School Management Committees (SMC) have been constituted in the Cantonments.
"The SMCs have been assigned administrative and financial functions for bringing efficiency in school administration. Cantonment Boards have been issued instructions to encourage girl child and children belonging to weaker section in the field of education by way of giving scholarship and free uniforms," it added.
Some Cantonment Boards have also taken the initiative in establishing centres for differently-abled children and old age persons.