Tosa Maidan Row: Govt likely to take final call on July 31
The eight-member high-powered committee, headed by Chief Secretary Mohammad Iqbal Khanday, is likely to take a final call on the Tosa Maidan artillery range lease issue on July 31 after proposing alternate sites to the defense ministry.
Well placed sources told Rising Kashmir that the chief secretary has convened a meeting over the matter on July 31 after the committee surveyed various alternative sites to shift the training ground from Tosa Maidan area of central Kashmir. Official sources revealed that the panel has suggested Bajipathri in Yousmarg and a forest field near Sinthantop in Kokernag as alternative sites to the army.
Sources, however, said with the panel yet to finalize the matter, army is likely to be permitted the arms drill on the existing site this year.
“If we are unable to take the final decision in coming meeting, we may need to re-notify the existing field for the training of army this year. The arms training has not been conducted over it after the completion of lease in April this year,” said the official sources.
The alternative places were surveyed by former Divisional Commissioner, Kashmir Shailendra Kumar. Kumar was recently transferred as Commissioner Secretary Tourism department.
“The alternative places have been identified by the former Divisional Commissioner. He was working on ground to look for alternative places for the shifting of firing range. His suggestions would be tabled in the meeting for the final call on July 31,” sources revealed.
The other eight members of the committee are Administrative Secretary, Home Department, Divisional Commissioner Kashmir, Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Administrative secretary Revenue Department, Administrative Secretary Forest Department, Representative of Northern Command to be nominated by Army Commander, and Principal Director, Defense Estates Northern Command.
Amid the growing resentment against the extension of Tosa Midan lease to army, the government in February this year constituted a committee led by Chief Secretary to find an alternative land to shift the field firing range. Army has been conducting drills over 3000 kanals of the picturesque meadow since 1964 during which unexploded shells have resulted in the loss of over 60 civilian lives.