Thursday, July 14, 2011

Army, AMC battle over closing of defence road

Ahmedabad: The Ahmedabad Municipal Corporation (AMC) and the Local Military Authority (LMA) at Shahibaug went on a collision course in the Gujarat high court over closing of a road. The army closed the road leading to some residential areas and passing through defence land, saying it could not be used as a thoroughfare because of security concerns.
The army said that it had intelligence inputs point at movement of foreign nationals, especially Pakistani and Afghan, through this A1 Defence land. An affidavit filed on Wednesday in the high court by Lt Col Sanjay Dalal says, “It is reliably learnt that some of these foreign nationals are in the process of purchasing built-up properties adjoining army cantonment”. This area is also adjacent to the airport.
However, the AMC believes army’s claims of intelligence inputs from central, military and state agencies are just “cooked up” in order to save private property of an individual. This has been stated by AMC’s deputy estate officer Nilesh Baranda on an affidavit before the Gujarat high court.
The issue reached the high court after Riverside School and residents of Maruti Bungalows behind Taj Hotel filed petitions through advocate Amit Panchal, complaining that LMA closed down the army road, which was the only approach to their premises. They sought directions for LMA and AMC to either open the road or to provide alternate approach towards their establishments in Hansol. It was on this petition that the army and AMC took on each other.
Lt Colonel Dalas stated that intelligence inputs from various agencies said that militant threats at vital installations, mainly airport and surrounding military station, has increased.
The army has also objected to building of 30-metre highway and bridge crossing the Sabarmati River overlooking the notified areas. “This is a precursor to the objectionable roads being planned thereby compromising national security in general and security of the Army cantonment in particular,” the army claimed and accused AMC officials of favouring the builders who were developing land behind the Taj Hotel and near Maruti Bungalows.
The civic body denied the charges and rebutted that LMA was interested in protecting private property situated near RS No 296, a portion of which falls in the proposed road widening plan.

Security heightened at city airport, cantonment

If the the affidavit filed in the Gujarat high court is anything to go by, the defence area in Shahibaug could be under serious threat. Lt Col Sanjay Dalal’s affidavit says the military has specific inputs about some foreign nationals, who are in the process of purchasing properties near army establishment in Shahibaug. Dalal says, “Intelligence inputs from various Central, military and state agencies have confirmed our apprehensions.” The affidavit adds that the government has issued an advisory to airports across the country, asking them to take precautionary measures in the wake of intelligence inputs that terrorist groups might surgically implant bomb into human beings to carry out attacks. An intelligence advisory has been issued to all cantonments and airports to step up vigil.

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