The Jammu and Kashmir government has begun process to lease out 71,238 acres land to the army for field firing and artillery practice in Kargil district.
The state government, in a notification, has asked the public that any objections in this regard may be communicated to the Kargil District Magistrate within a period of two months.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by sub-section (3) of section 9 of the Maneuvers, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938, a notice is hereby given that the Government of Jammu and Kashmir intends to authorise carrying out of the field firing and artillery practice throughout an area or any specified part thereof for a period of five years,” Principal Secretary to Government, Home Department, RK Goyal, said in the notification.
The state government in October 2017 had extended lease of army’s field firing and artillery range in Akhnoor area of Jammu by 10 years.
In March 2017, the state government had granted 4,80,000 kanals of land at Mandalthang, Shayok in Durbuk sub division in Leh district of Ladakh to the army for setting up field firing and artillery range. The army had been granted lease of the land for five years.
The government in 2016 had granted land to the army at Nowshera in Rajouri district for the firing range.
The army had vacated the firing range in Tosa Maidan meadow in central Kashmir in 2014 after the then J-K government headed by Omar Abdullah decided against extending the lease period of the firing range spread over 11,200.477 hectares.
Fifty years lease period of nine firing ranges had ended in November 2014 and since then the army has been pursuing the case of their extension.
Nine firing ranges, whose lease period has expired included Mahe (Nyoma, Leh), Khurbarteng (Kargil), Tartar (Leh) and Kulum (Upshi) in Leh, all four in Ladakh region falling under 14 Corps; Tosa Maidan (Budgam) in Kashmir under 15 Corps; Chorkhud in Poonch, Jhallas in Rajouri, and Garhi (Nowshera) in Rajouri district, all four in Jammu region, falling under the Command of 16 Corps.
The army has projected that it was suffering heavy loss to the state exchequer and defence budget as the artillery units deployed in Jammu and Kashmir had to move to Mahajan and Pokhran firing ranges in Rajasthan, Uttar Pradesh, and Madhya Pradesh for practice and training along with lock, stock and barrel.