Changes to check encroachment of defence land

Mumbai: The government was not careful in the past to ensure defence lands in the country were not encroached upon but policy changes are in the offing to prevent such incidents, Defence Minister A K Antony said and Friday.

"We are making policy changes so that in future such incidents (encroachments) do not occur. We have intitutionalsed a mechanism to prevent such things," the minister told reporters after commissioning Italian built fleet-tanker INS Deepak into the Indian Navy at the Naval Dockyard here.

The government has decided to computerise entire defence land, he said. "We are tightening the system in a time bound manner. In the past we we were not careful and we did not maintain records of defence lands properly," he said.

"As far as issuing NOCs on the land belonging to Defence is concerned, we are looking into the complaints we have received," the minister said.

"Henceforth we will ensure that only higher level officers go through all these procedures and such NOCs will not be issued," Antony said, adding defence land records would be systematically computerised.

The Minister`s statement comes in the backdrop of the Adarsh Housing Society scam in Mumbai, in which names of some retired army officials and a few politicians have cropped up.

Responding to a question on the arrest of three Chinese citizens near the Indo-Nepal border and their alleged incursions, "As far as the arrests of three Chinese citizens are concerned, I do not want to jump into any conclusion.

Authorities are questioning them," Antony said.

There are perceptions about attempts of incursion, Antony said. "Army and paramilitary forces are taking all precautionary steps to protect the region. After a long time, we have strengthened capabilities of assets and infrastructure on the eastern territory," he said.

Responding to a query on intelligence inputs on possible terror strikes, the minister said, "We are on guard 24X7. Lot of information has been received from the intelligence sources that there is a continuous effort to create trouble at land border and coastal areas."

"Indian security has changed tremendously after the 26/11 Mumbai terror attacks. Now we are capable of meeting any challenges from any quarters," he said.

Asked about the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) remarks that inferior grade material was used to build INS Deepak, the Defence Minister said, "The ship is in a good condition and we are very proud to have the ship." "You have seen the ship. How do you find it," he asked the reporters.

Asked if that there would be reduction of Army personnel in Jammu and Kashmir, the minister said, "Already a number of Army personnel were reduced. The current issue is now of reduction of paramilitary forces. Do not mix up both the issues."