Other States

Maharashtra moves to ease development around defence premises

State has asked the Defence Ministry to relax rules to issue NOC for construction projects

Having learnt its lessons from the Adarsh housing society scam, Maharashtra is pushing the Centre to relax development norms around defence installations. The State has already prepared a comprehensive policy for development of land around defence installations as part of its ease of doing business plans. The policy is likely to be finalised this month, officials said.

“While we have simplified the permission process here in the State, obtaining an NoC for the development of a land around defence installation takes nothing less than two months. The defence forces are right now busy with border issue, why would they care about development issues here? It is for this reason we want the norms be relaxed,” said a senior officer.

The State has asked the Defence Ministry to either compensate owners whose land cannot be developed on account of restrictions under the Works of Defence Act (WDA), 1903, or allow the State to relax rules related to defence No Objection Certificate (NoC) for construction projects.

For ease of business

In line with the State’s ease of doing business policy, the government has communicated to the Defence Ministry that restrictions on development should apply only to notified areas outside the installations for which WDA or any other relevant act have been applicable, and that ‘no restrictions would apply to other areas’. The government has also proposed to withdraw its circulars of 2010, 2015 and 2016, which are currently regulating issuance of NoC for development.

The State’s move has been backed by Advocate General of Maharashtra (acting) Rohit Deo, who has opined that if there is no notification issued under section 3 of WDA, ordinarily the NoC from the defence authorities would not be required for development.

The section 3 imposes restrictions as follows: “Wherever it is necessary to the central government to impose restriction on the use and enjoyment of land in the vicinity of any work of defence or of any site intended to be used for such work, such land may be kept free from buildings and obstructions.”

Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis in his letter on May 13, 2015 had written to the Minister of Defence, communicating the view of the State. Meanwhile, several writ petitions were also filed in connection with requirement of defence NoC for construction of buildings.

Under litigation

The government circulars in the past have cleared State’s stand but they lacked the force of the law which led to litigations. This necessitated the need for a comprehensive policy, officials told The Hindu.

“The letter to the defence secretary be perused, there is no communication from MoD yet. The legal position has been cleared by the AG, and the state government can rescind the said circulars in his opinion,” a note from principal secretary, urban development department (UDD) Nitin Kareer reads.

The 31-storey Adarsh Housing Society scam was unearthed in 2010. The 31-storey building at Colaba was allegedly constructed on land belonging to defence. It was allegedly meant for the welfare of war widows, while over a period politicians and bureaucrats allegedly conspired to bend rules concerning ownership, floor space index (FSI) to get themselves flats allotted in the cooperative society at below market rates.

Since then, development of projects around defence installations has been a contentious issue in Maharashtra.

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Printable version | Mar 29, 2020 12:08:41 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/Maharashtra-moves-to-ease-development-around-defence-premises/article14988298.ece

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