Gangtok, Dec 3 (UNI) The Defence Ministry has decided to open defence estate office in Sikkim to resolve amicably all issues of land disputes among the state government, the army and the civilian population in the state as well as issues related to revision of land prices and rent for those areas in possession with the army.
This was informed to the state administration by Defence Minister A.K.Antony who was here on a two-day visit.
Mr Antony told state chief secretary N. D. Chingapa on December 1 that the Ministry had already decided and asked the Director General, Defence Estates, to open an office in Sikkim to take up all issues related to land in possession with the army in the state. The chief secretary had led a delegation of senior state government officials to meet the Defence Minister during his visit.
The demarcation of the land with the army will be the first step to be taken up by the office of the defence estates. Mr Antony also assured that the army was going to revise rates accordingly in respect of private lands which were on hire with the army. This comes as a welcome step since there have been a number of disputes and at times the state government and private land owners were in loggerheads with the army. Often land issues dominated the civil-military liaison meetings held annually.
There have also been instances when such issues have landed up in the courts. A recent case has been the row between the state government and the army over the Hanuman Tok area in upper areas of Gangtok. The state government has claimed that this land was given to the army by the Chogyal for free rent and the state government has desired it back since it falls under reserve forest area. Low rates of rents for private holdings in East and North Sikkim has also been a major issue having been brought up in the state Assembly in the past.
The Defence Minister also informed the state administration that there would be more recruitment in army in the state so that more youths from the state could pursue a career in the armed forces.