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Parliamentary panel picks holes in management of defence land

Parliamentary panel picks holes in management of defence landA parliamentary panel has slammed the Defence Ministry over management of its land and recommended a comprehensive survey of all such lands in ten years, while taking strict action against erring officials whose inaction led to losses worth crores.

The Public Accounts Committee in its report on 'Improper Management of Defence Land', which was tabled before the Lok Sabha today, said despite having repeatedly pointed out by the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) in its report in 2007-2008, 2008-2009 and twice in 2010-11, no effort was made by the Ministry of Defence to streamline the management of defence lands.

The ministry owns huge tracts of land across the country. This is managed by the Directorate General of Defence Estate.

The committee said the Defence Estate Officers (DEOs) failed to take advance action of renewal and/ termination of lease in utter disregard of the guidelines, resulting in outstanding rentals of approximately Rs 838.34 crore for a period ranging from four to 46 years in respect of eight cases.

Referring to a case of Royal Calcutta Turf Club (RCTC), the panel said since 2014, the Ministry of Defence in process of finalising policies for leasing of land for sports and recreational purpose, has not renewed the lease of RCTC from 2007 whose dues are as huge as Rs 814 crore.

"The committee desires that strict action be taken against the officials responsible for non-renewal of leases failing to prevent encroachment, encouraging the use of defence land for commercial purpose, failing in the basic law of correct and accurate demarcation/ measurement of land while acquiring the same before its final payment," the panel said in its recommendation.

The panel also recommended a comprehensive survey of all defence lands be made once in ten years.

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