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When the Cantonments and military stations were planned they happened to be located at the outskirts of the town. With growing urbanization, the Cantonments have become part of the city and are almost always located in the heart of the city. Much of this is prime real estate. A lot of this land is vacant and unused. As per the CAG Report, the Ministry has 81,000 acres of surplus land nationwide. Out of that, almost 15,000 acres of land is in major urban centres such as Chennai, Bangalore, Pune and Mumbai.[1]

Station Land Required (Acres) Land Held (Acres) Excess (Acres)
Ambala 5788.8 7864.9 2076.1
NAMS 2693.51 4533.39 1839.88
Kasauli 194.9 559.56 364.66
Dagshai 539.87 559.56 364.66
Subathu 605.5 720.9 115.4
Tibri (gurdaspur) 2655.74 2812.46 156.72
Bhadraya 469.51 931.04 461.53
Pathankot 1265.83 2028.29 762.46
Sujanpur 1362.88 1762.73 399.85
Bukloh 307.19 539.41 232.22
Alwar 2814.5 2833.72 19.22
Bhatinda 9676.76 13603.13 3926.37
Bikaner 4424.97 5213.07 788.1
Hissar 5217.41 7641.8 2424.39
Kota 2367.12 4988.41 2621.29
Suratgarh 3266.64 8397.74 5131.1
Chennai 1606.15 1830.92 224.77
Avadi 537.5 715.92 178.42
Trichy 581.54 657.71 76.17
Bangalore 4060.07 5332.53 1272.46
Belgaum 1781.32 3180.52 1399.2
Kirkee 5955.32 10512.66 4557.34
Pune 2923.23 3446.96 523.73
Aurangabad 1291.01 2271.69 980.68
Dehu road 1696.24 6353.63 4657.39
Allahabad 3210.51 4227.4 1016.89
Bareilly 3346.19 3928.22 582.03
Faizabad 1852.11 4624.72 2772.61
Kanpur 2545.74 3495.73 949.99
Landsdown/Kotdwar 1049.73 1320.74 270.74
Lucknow 4843.32 5886.68 1043.36
Mhow 2327.92 3701.63 1373.71
Nainital/Kailkhan 57.81 595.51 537.34
Chambetia/Panchmarhi 495.32 2085.83 1590.51
Girgarikhal 1045.21 3995.17 2949.96
Shahjahanpur 1455.74 2211.49 755.75
Varanasi 695.14 879 183.86
Total 92208.73 174023.55 81814.82

The Ministry of defence has 97 golf courses covering 8,076 acres of mostly urban land. Golf courses are not authorized uses on A-1 Defence lands. In 2004, to avoid the charge of having surplus recreational land, the Army relabelled its golf courses as Army environmental parks and training areas. The CAG has noted that there is no evidence that these relabelled golf courses are designed for maintaining ecological balance. Sometimes, Defence lands are allocated to favoured parties at leases below market rates. For instance, the Agra (Golf) Club occupies 17.68 acres for which it has paid annual rent of Rs 58.92 per year since 1992.

The racetrack in Pune Cantonment is leased to Royal Western India Turf Club since 1902. The lease is for 65.15 acres, but gradually the Club expanded to more 24.1 acres of land without permission.[2] Other lease arrangements have been the subject of recent scandal. The Adarsh Society scam[3] and the Srinagar Airport scam[4] are two examples of alleged collusion between local military officials, bureaucrats, politicians, and developers. Through a series of manoeuvres, Defence land was re-classified as civilian land. No Objection Certificates then were issued to private developers to authorise construction of luxury high-rise buildings in prime locations.

Underuse of acquired land: As per reports of Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defence, 58529 acres of acquired land were lying vacant. 49,831 acres of land out of this were lying vacant since its acquisition. In addition, 5107 acres of land was found as permanently surplus and 1661 acres of land as temporarily surplus in Central and South Western Commands.[5]

Encroachment on Defence land: Records indicated that 25,888.81 acres of Abandoned Airfields and Camping Grounds owned by Ministry of Defense was lying surplus since 1980; It has not been disposed and nor been put to any alternative use. The area of encroachment of Defence land increased from 6,903 acres in January 1997 to 14,539.38 acres in July 2009. Audit reported that no inspection of land was being carried out and required certificates were not being issued by Defence Estates Officers.[6]

Use of Parks/Clubs on Defence land for commercial purposes: To avoid the wide spread commercial use of Defence land, Prime Minister’s Office issued instructions in August 1997 that no transfer of Defence land would take place without prior Cabinet Approval.However, In January 2002 it was observed that various clubs established to provide recreational facilities to the Defence personnel and their families had expanded their activities to civilians. They were enrolled as members of the club. 32 acres of Defence land at Bhatinda and Bangalore was used for opening public parks without the Ministry’s approval. Chetak Park Bhatinda was used for commercial activities. In four stations (Agra, Lucknow, Pune and Secunderabad) 122.58 acres of Defence land had been leased out to various clubs for meagre rates. Land was being utilised for unauthorised commercial purposes like marriage and exhibitions.[7]

Mismanagement of leases:

As of March 2010, 2500 acres of land valuing 11,033 crore was on lease for an annual rent of 2.13 crore which is negligible given the present market value of the land. There was no progress in renewal of 3780 leases. Requests for renewal were received only in 899 cases. In 1800 cases, where no requests for renewal were received, the cases had not been pursued for eviction of lessees. In respect of remaining 1081 cases the status was not clearly known.[8]
  1. Performance Audit of Defence Estates Management. Report no. 35. Accessed March/April, 2018.
  2. Peterson, George, and Vasudha Thawakar. "Capturing the Value of Public Land for Urban Infrastructure." The World Bank. Accessed April 4, 2018.
  3. K., Deepalakshmi. "Adarsh Scam: The Story of a Posh High-rise with Not-so-posh Occupants." The Hindu. April 29, 2016. Accessed April 04, 2018.
  4. PTI. "CBI to Soon File Final Report in Srinagar Defence Land Scam | Latest News & Updates at Daily News & Analysis." DNA India. December 21, 2014. Accessed April 04, 2018.
  5. Performance Audit of Defence Estates Management. Report no. 35. Accessed March/April, 2018.
  6. Ibid
  7. Ibid
  8. Ibid