Prized Land Around Defence Establishments To Get Freed With MoD Amending 113-Year-Old Law
Prized Land Around Defence Establishments To Get Freed With MoD Amending 113-Year-Old LawSun rises over an under-construction apartment building on the outskirts of New Delhi. (PRAKASH SINGH/AFP/Getty Images)

The Ministry of Defence has finally amended an archaic Act that disallowed the construction of single-storied buildings within 500m of any defence establishment. According to this report in The Times of India, the new rules allow the construction of multi-storied structures just beyond 100m and single-storied structures just beyond 50m of defence establishments.

This crucial amendment will free thousands of acres of prized land around military stations across the country and is expected to boost the construction industry, besides fetching hundreds of crores of rupees as revenue to state governments and local bodies.

The restrictions under the Works of Defence Act, 1903 had resulted in thousands of acres of prime land, especially in urban centres, lying unused. For instance, in Kolkata, a lot of prime land in upmarket locations are lying fallow since many defence establishments are located right in the middle of the city.

Defence authorities across the country had cited the provisions of the Act to stop constructions of residential and commercial buildings within a half-kilometre radius of their establishments. For instance, in February 2015, the army had stopped the Kolkata Municipal Corporation and other civic bodies from approving building sanction plans near Fort William and 18 other military establishments in the city. This had stalled at least three mega residential projects in the city and affected scores of plot owners all over the city.

With the Act now being amended and the norms relaxed, the Kolkata Municipal Corporation expects to get Rs 150 crore as revenue from the stalled projects which will restart now.

The process of amending the 1903 Act started in 2012 after many states wrote to the Union government, but it only gained momentum under the present defence minister, Manohar Parrikar, in 2014.

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