HC advises Maruti to vacate land in restricted IAF zone

Courtesy: Ajay Sural TNN

Submitted by – Mayank Dureja

The Punjab and Haryana high court has advised public sector automobile giant Maruti Suzuki India Limited (MSIL) to vacate a part of its property that falls in the 300-metre restricted zone around the Air Force stationin Gurgaon.

These oral observationscame from a division bench headed by Justice S S Saron while hearing the ongoing issue pertaining to removal of encroachments around Air Force stations of Gurgaon and Faridabad. On the suggestion of HC, the counsel appearing for Maruti sought time from the court to seek instructions from the company in this regard.

When the matter came up for hearing before the bench on May 23, the counsel for Maruti sought permission to implead the company as party in the case. The counsel said the company is a central government-registered entity and should be heard by the court as the Maruti property falls within the 900 metre as well as the reduced limit of 300-metre restricted zone around the depot.

After going through the property map, the bench orally observed that only the delivery area of the company’s production unit falls within the reduced restricted zone of 300 m, and the company can easily vacate it.

Hearing this, the counsel for Maruti told the court that he would be able to make any submission in this regard only after seeking instructions from the company.

During hearing of the case, the bench also asked additional solicitor general of India, Satya Pal Jain, to clarifiy the powers of district magistrates delegated by the Centre for enforcement of provisions of Works of Defence Act, 1903, to remove encroachments in a 100-metre radius of the ammunition depot in Faridabad and 300 m from that in Gurgaon.

 The matter will come up for hearing on June 1. The matter reached the HC in 2010 through a public interest litigation seeking removal of constructions from the 100-metre area around the Air Force station, Dabua, in Faridabad, and construction within 900 m around the Air Force ammunition depot, Gurgaon.
Following court intervention, the central government, in September 2015, told the HC that it had been decided to decrease the restricted zone around the ammunition depot of Indian Air Force, Gurgaon, from 900 m to 300 m. The Centre, however, made it clear that the area of restricted zone around Air Force station, Faridabad, remains 100 metre.



Squatters, location trigger safety worry on IAF ammunition depot


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.

Houses share wall with ammo depot



Houses, most with a second floor, rise above the concertina mesh on the depot’s boundary wall Surrounded by unauthorised buildings, security of 54 Air Stores Park, Air Force Station Ammunition Depot on Old Delhi-Gurgaon Road, could be a major concern for the authorities.

Though no construction is allowed in a 900 meter radius around the IAF ammunition depot, houses — most of them with a second floor — rise above the concertina mesh on the depot’s boundary wall. Though crucial for the IAF because of its strategic location near Delhi, the political patronage and a mix of civic indifference and collusion has allowed houses to be built deep inside the restricted zone of the depot.

In order to ensure implementation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders to curb unauthorised construction in the restricted zone, the district administration has held several coordination meetings with the Station Commander and other Air Force officers, but little has changed on the ground.

Police have set up several check points on roads leading to the restricted zone to stop constructed material from entering, but illegal construction is going on with the collusion of the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) and police officials. Though the district administration has said that vehicles caught carrying construction material into the restricted zone will be impounded and the driver, mason, labourers and owner of the under-construction house will be booked and arrested, little action has been taken on the ground.

Several demolition drives have also been carried out by the MCG but it has failed to curb the menace.

Experts said that the issue needed to be taken up on priority and the arsenal must be protected to ensure that it was not an easy target.

“We have conducted a security audit of the IAF air bases across the country following the Pathankot attack and have taken remedial measures, specific to each base. There are more than 950 such IAF station across India. We have also reviewed the security of the IAF ammunition depot at Gurgaon,” said IAF Public Relations Officer Rochelle D Souza.

The Punjab and Haryana high court is hearing a case on redefining the restricted zone, with a proposal to reduce it to 300 metres. An early resolution to the problem is key to preparing the defences of the depot. The government will, however, have to quickly formulate a plan to rehabilitate those who lose their houses.

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.