SRINAGAR: Moving on a proposal fast-tracked when the state was under Governors rule earlier this year, the Jammu and Kashmir government has asked officials to identify land in Srinagar and Budgam for Sainik colonies to house troops and their families.
The state government maintains it has received no such direction from the Centre and has no plans to settle soldiers in the Valley. But the Sainik colonies project is already being opposed by the Opposition National Conference and separatist organisations.
In April 2015, the Rajya Sainik Board (RSB), headed by Governor N N Vohra, approved establishment of a Sainik colony in Srinagar close to the old airport. In a note to the Home department, the RSB said 173 kanals (21.6 acres) of land had been identified for a Sainik colony and approval had been sought from then Chief Minister, Mufti Mohammad Sayeed.
Sayeed died on January 7 this year and the state was under Governors rule until daughter Mehbooba Mufti took charge on April 4. It was during this spell of Governors rule that letters were sent to the Deputy Commissioners of Srinagar and Budgam, asking them to identify land for the Sainik colonies.
And now, the Mehbooba Mufti government has sent a reminder to the Deputy Commissioners, seeking their response at the earliest.
The RSB has been checking on the status of land for the project. On August 31, 2015, the RSB sent a second note to the Home department, seeking more land since the number of aspirants increased. After obtaining written commitment from the beneficiaries, the number of aspirants increased to 26 officers, 125 JCOs and 900 others, requiring a total of 350 kanals (44 acres) of land, the RSB wrote.
Thereafter, the Home department sent reminders to the officials concerned, asking them to furnish requisite information regarding the allotment of land.
A letter was initially sent only to the Srinagar Deputy Commissioner but later it was also sent to the counterpart in Budgam because, sources said, land was scarce in Srinagar.
Incidentally, the demand for a piece of land or a well-built apartment on a 99-year lease in the Valley for soldiers and families of those killed in the line of duty there was made by BJP MP Tarun Vijay in Rajya Sabha on May 8, 2015.
Two months later, Defence Minister Manohar Parrikar said the matter had been forwarded to the state government since land was a State subject.
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