Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Army lands in land row in Hastings, Kolkata

Headlines Today Bureau | Kolkata, March 21, 2011 | Updated 17:51 IST

Even as the Indian Army faces heat over serious land scams, another scandal has come to light in Hastings, Kolkata, where a 5-star hotel has been under construction for the past one-and-a-half years.
Hastings is a restricted zone where no building of any kind can come up without an NOC from the General Officer Commanding, Bengal Area. But according to documents available exclusively with Headlines Today, the 5-star hotel came up without the requisite NOC from the Army. It is to be noted, that even after the irregularity came to the Army's notice, the GOC in an internal report, recommended that a one-time exception be made for the construction of the 5-star hotel despite guidelines, which clearly state that such buildings should be demolished.
After Headlines Today started investigating the matter, the Army GOC made an about-turn, seeking the immediate demolition of the 5-star building.
The 14-storey 5-star hotel was 70 per cent complete when the demolition order came. The property in Hastings is right next to the military area which houses the Bengal Area Head Quarters as well as the Eastern Command HQ of the Army.
There has been no reply to the question, which Headlines Today posed to the Army, as to how this structure came up right under the Army's nose without an NOC till now.
Kolkata: Army lands in hotel row

NEW RULES FOR DEFENCE LAND USE- Military Powers to be degraded?
Defence minister AK Antony told parliamentarians the management of 17 lakh acres under his Ministry has been in focus following several scams. A new policy is being crafted that will address the issue of noc (no objection certificates) in cases where the local laws require consultation with Local Military Authorities for allowing construction of buildings on land adjacent to defence installations. In cases where the local laws do not provide for it, the local Military authorities will not directly issue noc, especially to private builders. Admitting ‘gaps’ in the system, Antony said the Ministry was according top priority to computerise land records. He said that the government would amend the Works of Defence Act, 1903, which provided for restrictions on building activity around defence installations so that it was made relevant to present day situations. The Act had not been amended for the last over 100 years.

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