The Shillong Times, Nov 24 2015, ShillongThe Airports Authority of India (AAI) has taken possession of Defence land measuring 31.825 acres for the expansion of Umroi Airport according to the affidavit filed by Sanjay Tyagi, Airport Director, Shillong, as per the last order of the High Court on November 24.
After the matter came up for hearing on Thursday, the Court referred to the affidavit which said that, the officials of the State Survey department on November 24 and 25 carried out survey and demarcation of 31.825 acres of Defence land at Umroi military station adjacent to Umroi Airport for handing over the same to the Airports Authority of India for expansion of Umroi Airport.
“After survey and demarcation, a memorandum has been prepared which has been duly countersigned by the officials from the local military authority, Defence Estate office, State Survey department, office of the Deputy Commissioner, Ri Bhoi, as well as officials of Airports Authority of India,” the affidavit said. The local military authorities have also issued a letter granting no-objection for commencement of construction by the Airports Authority of India.
Tyagi also said that that since the PWD is already engaged in raising construction of boundary wall, they can construct the wall also on 31.825 acres of land and the AAI will deposit the cost of construction in the accounts of State PWD by Monday.
With this development, the Full Bench of the Court observed, “As we have already made it amply clear in our earlier orders that since this project has remained pending since 1960 with huge investment, any further delay may invite prosecution after fixing responsibility on the authority found to be responsible for impeding its progress”.
Colonel Ranjit Kumar has filed separate affidavit on behalf of the Chief of Army Staff informing that a joint survey has been conducted in respect of the land proposed to be given in exchange to the Defence land.
It was also mentioned that upon handing over of 31.825 acres of Defence land to the Airport Authority, a piece of 13 acres of land has been rendered unfit for utilization in the absence of a road for egress and ingress to that place, while suggesting that the State government may be asked to provide some land for passage to that piece of land for proper utilization.
According to the Defence authorizes, the civil administration must provide land along the proposed Airport boundary for vehicular access into the 13 acres of Defence land getting isolated because of handing over of 31.825 acres of defense land to the Airport Authority of India.
K. Paul, counsel for the Defence establishment, also submitted that since the land to be given in exchange to Defence has already been inspected jointly, the process of handing over the land to the Defence should be completed at the earliest.
He also said that under Section 40 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, the Deputy Commissioner can invoke urgency clause which is akin to Section 17(4) of the Land Acquisition Act, 1894.
The Deputy Commissioner, Ri Bhoi District, stated that under Section 40 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, the direction should also come from appropriate government.
“Since the Chief Secretary and Revenue Secretary are already associated with the case, we direct them to issue necessary direction, at the earliest, within one week. Thus, the Deputy Commissioner shall thereafter take possession of the land in terms of Section 38 of the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, 2013, and the disbursement of compensation, of course, as per provisions of this Act, can be completed later, but in any case, not later than three months,” the Court said, while also making it clear that the land to be handed over to the defense shall be free from encumbrances, if any, so that the defense is not required to face any litigation in future.
The matter has been listed for further hearing on December 10.