CAG cites discrepancies in defence land records

In the backdrop of Sukna and Adarsh scams, the CAG said there were 'large scale discrepancies' in land records which could result in further 'encroachments and land grabs' on properties of the defence ministry.

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In the backdrop of scams such as Sukna and Adarsh, the CAG today said there were "large scale discrepancies" in land records which could result in further "encroachments and land grabs" on properties of the defence ministry.

In its report on defence estates management, the government auditor asked the defence ministry to take "strict disciplinary action" against officers "who turn a blind eye to the illegal use of defence land for years on end" and allow it to be misused by private builders.

"The audit found that there is no centralised record of defence land... it indicates large scale discrepancies in figures of A1 land as mentioned in land calculation sheets prepared by military authorities and Defence Estate Officers (DEO)... No effort was evident to reconcile the discrepancy," it said.

Noting that the Defence Ministry had only one section which was "inadequate" to deal with the vast number of cases, CAG noticed that "lines of responsibilities and accountability were blurred and no agency accepted responsibility."

Observing that lack of updated records has created a situation where there is a complete lack of accountability, the CAG said, "The computerisation of land record by DEO showed little progress. The state of affairs is fraught with risks of encroachment and land grab."

Noting that 14,539 acres of land was under encroachment in 2009, the CAG said the Ministry and the DGDE were not monitoring the progress of inspection and rendition of certificates issued by local military authorities and DEOs, which was leading to "fresh encroachments".

It said the Government should set up a single independent authority with overall responsibility to manage all defence land to overcome problems of coordination among multiple agencies.

"The authority should function on lines of an autonomous body and should preferably be headed by the defence minister," the report recommended.

It also asked the Ministry to take away all powers of local military authorities and DEOs to dispose of any land or issue No Objection Certificates (NOCs) and be vested with the
defence land management authority.

The defence ministry has already withdrawn the power of issuing NOCs from Services officers.

The CAG said the land norms relating to defence lands are were laid down in 1947 and are archaic and need to be updated.

The report said huge amounts of land not mutated in favour of the defence Ministry and were creating problems about ownership.

"A large part of acquired land was waiting mutation for periods ranging from one year to over 60 years. Analysis indicated that 0.79 lakh acres were not mutated in favour of the ministry," it said.
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