BJP Speaker Of J&K Constructs House Near Ammunition Depot, Army Issues Letter Citing Illegal Construction
BJP leader and speaker of J&K Legislative Assembly Nirmal Singh has been sent a letter by the army, telling him that his house constructed right next to the army’s ammunition depot in Nagrota is illegal, poses risk and is a safety hazard.
Nirmal Singh purchased the land near the ammunition depot via a company “Himgiri Infrastructure Development Pvt Limited”. Singh, Deputy Chief Minister Kavinder Gupta and BJP MP Jugal Kishor are shareholders in the company.
In response to the letter, Singh said that the move is politically motivated and he has also accused the army of harassing the locales.
The company, Himgiri Infrastructure Development Pvt Limited, has Non-Performing Assets (NPAs) worth Rs 29.31 crores against it.
Letter to Nirmal Singh
Reportedly, Nirmal Singh bought 12 acres of land in 2014 and started constructing a house on a 2000-square-meter plot, close to army ammunition depot. Following this, Corps Commander of Army’s 16 Corps, Lt General Saranjeet Singh, in strong protest of the construction wrote a letter directly addressed to Nirmal Singh.
As reported by The Indian Express, the letter, dated March 19, 2018, said that the house constructed was illegal and that it “has implications on the security of a major ammunition storage facility as well as the safety of all personnel living in the close vicinity of the ammunition depot.”
The letter further said, “May I request you to reconsider construction of residential accommodation in close proximity of the ammunition depot being a potential safety hazard.”
The letter also listed a string of alleged violations. “The construction is in violation of Works of Defence Act (WoDA) 1903 as also Government of India, Ministry of Defence notification dated 26 September 2002. Further, as per notification…issued by DC, Jammu on 7 August 2015, construction activity within one thousand yards of the boundary wall of 4 ASD has been prohibited”.
Nirmal Singh was the Deputy CM when the letter was issued to him, before the Jammu and Kashmir cabinet reshuffle.
Speaking to The Indian Express, an Army officer at Nagrota said that Lt General Saranjeet Singh was compelled to write a direct letter to Nirmal Singh since the local administration failed to respond on the army’s repeated requests against the construction work.
“Move politically motivated”: Nirmal Singh
Responding to the letter, Nirmal Singh told The Indian Express that the move was politically motivated. He said, “A village called Ban is adjacent to it. During militancy, the Army built a wall around it. They are saying that you can’t construct anything 1000 m from the outer wall of the depot. My house is 530 m. The moment I started construction, there was opposition. It is politically motivated.”
He also alleged that the locals are being harassed by the army, “They (army) don’t let people construct even a toilet. People are harassed. You should speak to people there. Because it is my house, it is politically motivated. They started objecting. Why don’t they get a stay, they can’t do it”.
He claimed to have made representation to the Raksha Mantri about how the army is harassing people by not allowing them to use their lands.
He added, “This is my property. I have a right to use this property the way I want to use it. It is my fundamental right and you (Army) can’t encroach. They are giving reference of Raksha Mantri, I am telling them you should have acquired it. I have got the plan of the house passed and they are objecting.”
NPAs against the construction company
The land next to the ammunition corps was bought via a company, Himagiri Infrastructure Development Limited, which was incorporated in 2000 by senior BJP leaders. Deputy CM Kavinder Gupta, Nirmal Singh and his wife Mamta Singh are some of the shareholders of this company.
It is being reported that the company owes Rs 29.31 crore to the Jammu and Kashmir Bank. On January 5, more than 20 shareholders, promoters, directors and guarantors including Nirmal, Kavinder Gupta and BJP Lok Sabha member Jugal Kishore received notice from the bank under Section 13(2) of the Securitisation and Reconstruction of Financial Assets & Enforcement of Security Interest Act (SARFAESI), 2002.