Pathankot and after: Civic body starts identifying illegal buildings near air force base

The IAF letter was written by Group Captain Rajnish Verma from Air Force station’s Chief Administrative Office.

Written by Navjeevan Gopal | Chandigarh | Updated: January 30, 2016 9:36:13 am
pathankot, pathankot air base attack, pathankot IAF attack, pathankot attack, terror attack, airbase terror attack, pathankot illegal buildings, illegal buildings, chandigarh news, india news Security personnel at the Pathankot Air Force base in Punjab

The Pathankot Municipal Corporation on Friday directed an official to collect details of unauthorised construction near the perimeter of the air force base which recently witnessed a terror attack. The exercise comes days after IAF authorities wrote to Pathankot DC Sukhwinder Singh, asking him to remove the unauthorised structures and stop further construction.

The IAF letter was written by Group Captain Rajnish Verma from Air Force station’s Chief Administrative Office.

Stating that the 25-km boundary wall of the airbase was surrounded by localities, it cites a 2007 gazette notification that says, “No structures are to be constructed within 100 meters of boundary wall and 900 meters from weapon storage area (WSA). This is to ensure that no anti-national element/terrorist is able to intrude/undertake unlawful activities. Distance of the building from WSA is for the safety of the population around the Air Force Station”.

The letter notes that despite the notification, “unauthorised structures have been either constructed or are in different stages of construction”.

Identifying the unauthorised construction at various points, the letter says, “In view of the security of Air Force station Pathankot and safety of people, it is requested that (the) gazette notification may please be strictly implemented by removing unauthorised structures and buildings and stopping in progress construction.”

Meanwhile, Pathankot Municipal Corporation faces a tough job.

Commissioner Kumar Saurabh Raj said it is going to be a “highly technical” exercise.

“First, we will have to see whether the structures being called unauthorised were constructed before or after the airbase came into existence. Then, notification being referred to is of 2007. We will have to see whether unauthorised structures constructed before would come under its purview. There are other factors, too. In 2007, Pathankot was not a district and was part of the Gurdaspur district. We will have to see what action the district administration took then. If some notices were issued at that time, it will work in our favour,” Raj said.

“After we identify unauthorised buildings, we will serve notices. It is obvious that people concerned will move court.”

Fearing displacement notices after the attack, Bhanu Partap Singh, whose family owns shops near the airbase, had expressed apprehensions of people living in the Dhaki locality, located near the airbase.

“The people (of the locality) help guard the airbase. The terrorists entered from the back side, where there are no houses. We are not going to go away from here.” Singh’s two-storey house is in close vicinity of the airbase perimeter wall.

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