SRINAGAR: The PDP-BJP coalition government in Jammu and Kashmir has extended lease of army’s field firing and artillery range in Akhnoor area of Jammu in the State by 10 years.
Principal Secretary Home Department, R K Goyal in an order extended the lease of army’s field firing and artillery ranges at Akhnoor, Jammu for carrying out the firing and artillery practice for 10 years.
“In exercise of the powers conferred by subsection (1) of section 9 of the Manoeuvres, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938, the Government of Jammu and Kashmir hereby declare the area situated in erstwhile Tehsil Akhnoor, District Jammu as an area for field firing and artillery purpose for a period of 10 years with effect from 03.06.2014,” read the official order.
The state government was earlier reluctant to extend the lease period of field firing range in Akhnoor, which had expired in 2014. The government had shown reluctance to issue re-notification of the field firing range.
The government has also directed the army to observe strict compliance with the provisions of the Manoeuvres, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Act, 1938 and the Jammu and Kashmir Manoeuvres, Field Firing and Artillery Practice Rules, 1973, as amended vide SRO-183 dated 19-04-2017.
The army was directed to take all possible measures to prevent loss of life, livestock, public/private property and damage to standing crops during the firing and artillery practices.
“The Range shall not be used for field firing practice during school examination, harvest/sowing season and on public/gazetted holidays. Army shall make adequate arrangements with regard to medical facilities including doctors and ambulances during the days notified for firing,” further read the official order.
In March this year the State government had granted 4,80,000 kanals of land at Mandalthang, Shayok in Durbuk Sub Division, in Leh district of Ladakh to army for setting up field firing and artillery range.
The army has been granted lease of the land for five years.
The Army had in 2014 vacated the firing range in Tosa Maidan meadow in central Kashmir after the then J&K government headed by Omar Abdullah decided against extending the lease period of the firing range spread over 11,200.477 hectares.
In April, the state government had increased compensation for loss of life or injury caused by army’s field firing range.
It fixed Rs 2.5 lakhs for death, Rs 2 lakhs for 100% disability, Rs 1.50 lakhs for 50% to 100% disability and Rs 1 lakh for below 50% disability.
The government had also stated that in case villagers were compelled to leave their houses or when restrictions were imposed on their movement due to field firing practice, the compensation of Rs 151 per day and Rs 225 per night will be given to men and women above the age of 18 years and Rs 75 to children above the age of 12 and less than 18 years per day.