Squatters, location trigger safety worry on IAF ammunition depot

Courtesy:TNN

Residents living in colonies surrounding the Indian Air Force ammunition depot in Gurgaon are worried a fire, like the one in the Army depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra on Monday night, could wreak far more havoc here, as it is located in the middle of the city, and its restricted zone has been heavily encroached.

As news of the Maharashtra fire spread, local residents complained it will take a tragedy for the government to take action. Ministers, though, claimed they are working towards a solution. Late on Monday, a fire at the Army ammunition depot in Pulgaon, Maharashtra, killed at least two Army officers and 14 personnel, and left 17 others injured.

Vikas Sharma, who lives in the neighbouring Sheetla Colony, said, “The entire area surrounding the ammunition depot is thickly populated,” adding, “Habitation begins right at the depot’s boundary wall. People have been living here for decades. The government did nothing to stop these houses from being built here. We have been asking the government and courts to relocate this depot, but to no avail so far. Perhaps they will act when someone gets killed in an accident.”

 

Other locals said they regret voting to elect their present representatives. “It is our misfortune that we voted for Rao Inderjit Singh as MP and Rao Narbir as MLA. Both are cabinet ministers, but have done nothing for us. During their election campaigns, they promised to provide us relief. But now they have abandoned us. The thought of a mishap at this depot is dreadful. The government should either relocate this depot, or help us move out of here,” said Ashish Sharma, a Palam Vihar Extension resident.

While expressing regret about the Pulgaon accident, Gurgaon MP Rao Inderjit Singh, who is also MoS defence in the Modi government, said a meeting will soon be convened to identify how such incidents can be prevented in future. “There are several ammunition depots across the country, including the one in Gurgaon. We will soon hold a meeting to decide what steps need to be taken to avoid such incidents in future,” he said.
Gurgaon MLA Umesh Aggarwal, though, claimed the ammunition in the depot is safe. “Unlike the Pulgaon depot which belongs to the Army, the one in Gurgaon is under the Air Force. The ammunition here is preserved in a safe and secure manner. It’s assembled only when the need arises, so residents need not panic,” he told TOI.
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Soon, temporary water connections for areas under restricted zone of IAF ammunition depot

Courtesy – TNN

The Urban Local Bodies department of Haryana has given green signal for temporary water supplies to the families living in 900 metre restricted zone around the Indian Air Force (IAF) ammunition depot in Gurgaon. The residents living in the restricted zone around are deprived of basic civic amenities; the temporary water supply will end the dependence of residents on ground water and water tankers.
The area of 900m around the ammunition depot in Gurgaon covers around 2,325 acres area and has 14,154 structures. The built-up area is around 692 acres.

Gurgaon ammunition depot has strategic importance in the northern region and is ideal for transportation of armaments in case of a two-front war. It is most convenient for foreign receipts due to availability of air bridging facility in the vicinity, which proved very convenient during the Kargil operations.

A public interest litigation (PIL) was filed by one Suresh Goyal before Punjab and Haryana High Court in 2010 seeking removal of constructions from 100-metre area around Air Force Station, Dabua in Faridabad, which is a protected zone under provisions of the Work of Defence Act. HC had also taken cognizance of a similar matter of on the construction activities within the restricted zone of 900m of the ammunition depot of IAF in Gurgaon.

“Large numbers of people are living in this area and they are deprived of basic civic amenities. The matter of restricted zone is pending before court for many years, so we cannot keep large number of people thirsty,” said MLA Umesh Agrawal adding that water will be supplied to the residents till the final order of the court.

He said temporary water supply project will cost Rs 3 cr. Water will be supply through two overhead water tanks and Huda has promised to give land for it. “One overhead tank will be constructed near Tau Devilal Park in sector 22,” said Agrawal.

The temporary water supply to 10,368 owners/occupiers within 900m of the IAF ammunition depot will further complicate the matter. “Removal is a sensitive issue, which may create law and order problem. It includes Maruti Udyog Limited (MUL), other small/large industrial units in Sector 18, residential/commercial area in Sector 14 and small residential belt in Sector 17,” said senior government official.

Haryana government had stated in 2011 that factories like MUL and Electric City in the said area were providing economic impetus to Gurgaon, which made this restricted belt vulnerable to urbanization and industrial growth, resulting in encroachments.

Six-member committee headed by additional secretary, ministry of urban development, had recommended that it would be appropriate to reduce the prohibited zone near the Gurgaon ammunition depot from 500m to 600m for public traffic route.
The committee, comprising experts from various central ministries and the Haryana government, was formed in March 2014 following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court to discuss and suggest a solution to the encroachment related to ammunition depots in Gurgaon and Faridabad.
If the recommendations of the committee are accepted, around 8,000 structures around the Air Force depot in Gurgaon would be regularized. The area of 900m around the ammunition depot in Gurgaon covers around 2,325 acres area and has 14,154 structures. The built-up area is around 692 acres.
Under the 500m radius, 1,131 acres are covered and there are 6,275 structures. The built-up area is spread over 283.89 acres.

Haryana Govt :Will help remove illegal structures around IAF station

Courtesy : TNN

Haryana government on Tuesday informed Punjab and Haryana high court that the ministry of defence is fully empowered to remove encroachments around defence establishments in Gurgaon and Faridabad and the state would provide all kind of assistance in this regard. These submissions were made by the state in response to the issue related to encroachments in restricted zones of the Air Force station in Gurgaon and Faridabad.

On October 6, the high court had made it clear that it would accept the proposal of reducing restricted zone around Indian Air Force (IAF) ammunition depot in Gurgaon from 900 to 300 metres, only if the state government undertakes to vacate the encroachments within 300 metre area.

Responding to HC query, the state government submitted before the court on Tuesday that it is ready to extend all kind of assistance and help to central government or the defence authorities in removing encroachments within the reduced area of 300 metres around the IAF station in Gurgaon and Faridabad.

On a plea of some residents living around air force station in Gurgaon seeking directions to provide power connections, the HC refused to pass any order and adjourned the matter for December 22 for further hearing.

On September 7, the central government had submitted before the HC that the restricted zone around ammunition depot of Indian Air Force in Gurgaon has been decided to be decreased from 900 to 300 metres. The Centre, however, had made it clear that the area of restricted zone around air force station in Faridabad shall remain 100 metres only.

The matter is pending before the HC in the wake of a petition filed against the encroachment around prohibited zones of the Air Force stations in both Gurgaon and Faridabad.

The matter had reached before the Punjab and Haryana high court through a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by Suresh Goyal of Faridabad seeking removal of constructions from 100-metre area around Air Force station, Dabua in Faridabad and construction within 900 metres around air force station Gurgaon.

Following the intervention of HC, a six-member committee of central and state government officers headed by additional secretary, Union ministry of urban development, had suggested to reduce the restricted zone around air force station, Gurgaon.

Restricted zone around Gurgaon ammo depot reduced

Courtesy TNN
The Central government on Monday submitted before the Punjab and Haryana high court that the restricted zone around Indian Air Force’s ammunition depot in Gurgaon has been reduced to 300 metres from 900.

After additional solicitor general of India Satya Pal Jain told the HC during the hearing of a petition filed against encroachments around prohibited zones of the IAF stations at Gurgaon and Faridabad, the court directed the Central government to file an affidavit on this decision.

Jain, however, submitted that the area of restricted zone in Faridabad will remain the present 100 metres only. The case would now come up for further hearing on October 9. The court had on July 17 asked Centre to take a decision on the recommendations of a six-member committee that suggested reducing the restricted zone of 900 metre radius around the ammunition deport in Gurgaon.

In November last year, the committee of central and state government officers, headed by additional secretary, Union ministry of urban development, had informed the court that radius of the restricted zone could be reduced 500 to 600 metres. The committee, comprising experts from various central ministries and Haryana government, was formed in March 2014 following orders from the HC to discuss and suggest solutions to the encroachment problem.

HC directs Centre to decide if restricted zone around IAF depot in Gurgaon be reduced

Courtesy TNN

The Punjab and Haryana high court on Monday directed the Union government to take a decision on the reduction of the restricted zone from 900 metres to 500m around the Indian Air Force (IAF) ammunition depot at Gurgaon till April 20.

A division bench headed by Justice Surya Kant asked the Centre to take a decision on reducing the restricted zone as per the recommendations of a central committee. During the resumed hearing of the case on Monday, the bench also asked the petitioners to bring to the court’s notice details of land mafia operating in the region, under whose patronage illegal construction was on. These directions were passed after the IAF counsel informed about continuous of illegal activities around the restricted zone.

On November 25 last year, a six-member committee headed by additional secretary, ministry of urban development, had recommended that it would be appropriate to reduce the prohibited zone near the Gurgaon ammunition depot from 500m to 600m for public traffic route.

“Even in case of mishap, the buildings will not collapse and would only suffer about 10% damage. Moreover, fatality was unlikely,” the committee had recommended in its report.

The committee, comprising experts from various central ministries and the Haryana government, was formed in March 2014 following the directions of the Punjab and Haryana high court to discuss and suggest a solution to the encroachment related to ammunition depots in Gurgaon and Faridabad.

If the recommendations of the committee are accepted, around 8,000 structures around the Air Force depot in Gurgaon would be regularized. The area of 900m around the ammunition depot in Gurgaon covers around 2,325 acres area and has 14,154 structures. The built-up area is around 692 acres.

Under the 500m radius, 1,131 acres are covered and there are 6,275 structures. The built-up area is spread over 283.89 acres.

Gurgaon ammunition depot has strategic importance in the northern region and is ideal for transportation of armaments in case of a two-front war. It is most convenient for foreign receipts due to availability of air bridging facility in the vicinity, which proved very convenient during the Kargil operations.

The matter had reached the high court through a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by one Suersh Goyal seeking removal of constructions from 100-metre area around Air Force Station, Dabua in Faridabad, which is a protected zone under provisions of the Work of Defence Act. HC had also taken cognizance of a similar matter of on the construction activities within the restricted zone of 900m of the ammunition depot of IAF in Gurgaon.

Before HC hearing, 40 illegal structures in IAF zone razed

Courtesy TNN

The MCG on Sunday razed 40 illegal structures built within the 900-metre restricted area around the IAF ammunition depot, a day before next hearing on the issue in the Punjab and Haryana high court.

Among the structures razed were 10 permanent buildings and 30 makeshift ones. The demolition drive was carried out from 6am to 9am in Sat Guru Farms on Old Delhi Road.

According to MCG’s executive engineer Rao Bhopal Singh, who spearheaded the drive, the demolished structures were notified by IAF officials only last week and MCG immediately got working on a strategy to bring them down. The MCG’s demolition team comprised all three joint commissioners, YS Gupta, Vivek Kalia and Pradeep Dagar, besides four executive engineers, 10 subdivisional officers and 15 junior engineers.

“We were planning the demolition for the past week. But due to lack of police availability, we had to postpone it. On Sunday, nearly 1,000 policemen were deployed to assist our demolition team fearing public resentment,” Singh said. The MCG had faced violent resistance in earlier demolition drives. “Most of the structures in the area were rented accommodations used by labourers and were empty as it was a Sunday. The demolition drive did not witness any violence or protests,” he added.

However, some people who lost their homes claimed their buildings were nearly five years old and the MCG should have targeted those making fresh constructions. Indresh Kumar Gupta claimed he bought land and built a permanent three-room home five years ago. “On what ground have they marked my house as illegal? This structure is built before 2011 and they cannot demolish it as per the court’s order,” said Gupta.

Joint Commissioner Gupta rebutted that argument. “The houses taken down were notified by the IAF and later verified by the MCG with house tax records and by comparison of satellite imagery. This should also be seen as a drive against various unauthorized colonies mushrooming in Gurgaon.”

Sources in MCG said another demolition was also planned in Sheetla Colony on Sunday but it was called off fearing protests.

“The suffering of the residents needs to be addressed, and the district administration and MCG are the ones who should speak for them rather than work against them by demolishing their homes and denying them amenities,” said RS Rathee, president of Gurgaon Citizen’s Council who had earlier led the protest.