Ministry of Defence sets new rules for land transfer to reduce expenditure

The Ministry of Defence recently approved the land transfer rules. Under the new rules the armed forces are allowed to receive infrastructure equivalent in value to the land under their control. The land is to be used for public utilities. This will help reduce the defence forces’ expenditure.

Key Highlights

The Defence Forces under the new rule will effectively be able to monetise their land holdings for internal use. Earlier, the land needed for public works such as railways, roads could either be exchanged for land equivalent value or for payment of market places.

The State Governments, metros and National Highway Authority of India can offer equal value of infrastructure for the land acquired from the defence sector.

What is the issue?

The Defence sector has one of the largest holdings of land in India. According to the Public Accounts Committee 89th report on Defence Estate Management, 2013, the Ministry of Defence owns 17 lakh acres of land. The committee sates the following issues in Defence Sector Landholdings

  • The Ministry of Defence has faltered in applying proper norms and has failed to implement judicious management of lands.
  • The are variation in records between Defence Estate Officers and Local Military Authorities
  • Large portions of the lands are waiting for more than 60 years for mutation.
  • The Defence lands are being used for unauthorised commercial purpose such as golf courses.

Why the change in rules is needed?

  • With the Defence sector holding the largest part of the country’s land, there is a recurring problem in freeing up these lands for infrastructure purpose.
  • The land transfer was delayed due to state governments and public utilities and their protocols.
  • Also, the transfer of market value funds was stuck due to difference in availability of funds and costs.

The new rules are to be set by a committee headed by a local military authority.

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