New Delhi: Almost a year after the Centre diluted Article 370, in what could be a far-reaching change, the union territory of Jammu and Kashmir withdrew a 1971 circular that restrained the security forces from acquiring or requisitioning land in the erstwhile state.
The 1971 circular, which required security forces like the Army, BSF, CRPF, and others to seek a no-objection certificate (NOC) from the state’s home department to acquire land, will now be replaced by the Central law on land acquisition – the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 – that is applicable across the country.
A July 24 order issued by the UT’s revenue department stated, “In view of the extension of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013 to the UT, the circular dated 27.08.1971, which prescribed obtaining of No Objection Certificate from the Home Department for acquisition/ requisition of land in favour of Army, BSF/CRPF and similar organisations is hereby withdrawn.”
Keeping this change in mind, all district collectors, and the Competent Authority Land Acquisition (CALA) under the National Highway Act, 1956, have been instructed to process the land acquisition/requisition cases “strictly in accordance with the provisions of these two Acts and the rules made thereunder henceforth”.
An Indian Express report said this significant decision came on the heels the J&K administration approving an amendment to the Control of Building Operations Act, 1988 and the J&K Development Act, 1970. Together, these changes will facilitate the security forces to carry out construction activities in “strategic areas”.
The 2013 Central law allows land to be acquired “for strategic purposes relating to naval, military, air force, and armed forces of the Union, including central paramilitary forces or any work vital to national security or defence of India or State police, safety of the people”. It also states that “in relation to acquisition of land situated within a Union territory (except Puducherry), the Central Government is the appropriate authority for acquisition of land”.
The decision was ratified by the Lieutenant Governor G.C. Murmu-led administrative council on July 17. Amidst mounting criticisms against the move and fear of land alienation among the community, the administration clarified that the changes to construction regulations will only be applicable for “direct operational and training requirements” of the security forces.
The administration noted, “The transfer, both acquisition or requisitions, continues to be governed by the existing law and the norms on the subject. There is no decision to either transfer any new land or declare areas outside cantonments or army land as strategic.”