Provincial President National Conference and MLA Nagrota Devender Singh Rana on Saturday sought immediate shifting of army ammunition depot from Jandrah, saying this has impeded the growth of habitation due denial of permissions for raising new and renovating existing buildings in the periphery.“Since the army has been restraining locals to make additions or renovations of their houses, there is no option but to have the depot relocated to some isolated area in larger public interest”, he said while addressing a press conference at Sher-e-Kashmir Bhavan here along with prominent citizens of the area.Saying that the peace loving people of Jandrah have always stood by their armed forces and valued their contribution towards national security, Rana regretted that this was not being reciprocated adequately. On the excuse of safety, the residents outside the boundaries of the depot are not being allowed to carry out constructions or renovations although the army itself is raising multi-storey residential dwellings and other facilities like schools within the precincts of the premises. “It is sheer hypocrisy that the concrete buildings within the boundaries have no threat from the depot but the private houses far away from it are being projected unsafe”, he said and made a passionate appeal to look into the matter and have instructions passed, either to allow the civilians raise and renovate houses or to relocate the ammunition depot.
The MLA Nagrota said that an arbitrary guideline has been formulated to disallow constructions and renovations of civilian houses within a radius of 1000 meters, which impacts almost entire Jandrah habitation. “Where shall these people go”, Rana said, adding that if any via-media was not found to address this issue, the residents of the area will be forced to come on streets. He said they were being harassed constantly, despite a delegation of the area had brought the matter to the notice of Defence Minister in New Delhi early last year.Rana also made an appeal to the Prime Minister, the Governor of Jammu and Kashmir and the Army Chief to have the matter resolved which he termed imperative for healthy civil-military relations. He hoped that the Governor N N Vohra will use his good offices in getting the issue resolved, earnestly and amicably. He said though the rental of the land is not being timely released by the army yet the larger issue is with regard to grant of permission for making additions and alternations by civilian population. He said the people are also concerned about restrictions enforced on their smooth movement besides constructions and renovations.
The MLA Nagrota also regretted over denial of employment opportunities to locals as porters etc and said the work-force is being brought from the neighbouring states. He referred to various allegations being made with regard to recruitment in the ammunition depot and sought a thorough probe by CBI or Military Intelligence in the mechanism of engaging porters etc.“Truth must come out to offset suspicions in the public mind”, Rana said and hoped that the army will take cognizance of growing complaints , as also redress the grievances of locals with regard to permission for constructions and renovations.Some of the prominent local residents narrated their woes to media, particularly their helplessness in having adequate dwelling facilities despite being owners of the land. They said the growth in the family structures has necessitated additional facilities ever since the land had been occupied by the army for ammunition depot in 1964. (KNS)