Two time Belgaum BJP Member of parliament Suresh Angadi has made it to the news again in many papers after the Commander’s meeting held recently in Delhi, where the question of how a College was built near the Firing range in Belgaum came up for discussion and the PTI then published a story that the MP’s college had not taken No objection certificate for building the college in close vicinity of the Baghdad and Asmara firing range here in Belgaum on Savagaon Road.
The first major report was done by Bangalore Mirror in November 2009 and we also covered the same 300 students in the line of Fire at AITM.
The office of the Deputy Commissioner had granted permission for conversion of land purchased from private individuals. The land in question falls in an area notified as the firing range. The permission for conversion of land for non-agricultural purpose was given on the condition that it (permission) would be withdrawn if there were any objection from the Indian Army.
In the notice issued to the deputy commissioner by the MLIR, Colonel R K Mishra, observes that the college complex of AITM has been constructed in Survey No 72/73 which lies in the danger zone of the Baghdad-Asmara field firing ranges. Further, he states that as per the Karnataka Gazette Notification dated 10th Feb 1981, the area in question has been notified as a firing range. He further states that “It is not understood as to how construction has been allowed without obtaining a ‘No Objection Certificate’ from the local military authorities, keeping in view the safety of students and civilians moving in and around the college complex.”
The MLIRC had stopped the use of the firing range for a while then.
The district administration had given permission to the said college without the NOC of the MLIRC.
Angadi has been denying the allegations and has been saying that, “ it was his private land and there was no need of availing an NoC from the Army.I acquired the land (30 acres) from the farmers, neither the Army nor the state government objected to it. Now they are making an issue out of it. I was not even an MP when I acquired the land for the college.”
The letter which was given in November 2009 to the DC, J Ravishankar said he will inspect the place and give his decision, but later sent Addl DC Mr.Torgal, Asst Commissioner & Tahshildar to visit the place along with MLIRC officials. The District administration is asking were the MLIRC officials sleeping when the building was being constructed.
Mr. J Ravishankar who was supposed to give a reply suddenly went on leave afterwards.
MP Suresh Angadi tried his best to move the firing range from there and also tried for a baffle range, DC Mrs.Caur asked if a “Baffle range” could be built there, and Suresh Angadi is also suggested the same in a closed door meet held in September 2011.
In may 2012, Minister of Defence Shri AK Antony in separate written replies to Shri Suresh Angadi and Smt. Deepa Dasmunsi in Lok Sabha stated that “Presently, there is no proposal to construct a Baffle Range in Belgaum. No land has been acquired in Belgaum during the last 30 years.”
“There cannot be any compromise with the training at the Junior leaders wing at MLIRC and the wall around the Baghdad and Asmara firing range would be built for security reasons” said Brigadier Santosh Kurup on October 5, 2012. In a press meet Brigadier said that, the Baghdad and Asmara firing range which encompasses 523 acres of land is very essential for the training and even the same range is utilized for joint military exercises of different countries as well. Karnataka State Govt on 24 May, 2000 issued a gazette notification RD 41LGL 98 and notified this land as a firing range. This is an A1 Defense land since 1908 and will be till 2020 as per the notification. About 6500 acres of land which surrounds the firing range comes under the danger zone and hence no commercial activity can take place.
The problem now is the lease of the range will end in 2020 and Angadi claims, No state and central Acts say that private agricultural land can be notified and leased to the military to conduct firing activities. But the Karnataka State govt in a gazette notification stated above has notified the 523 acres as a firing range.
In September 2012, Deputy Commissioner V. Anbukkumar said the State Government notified and leased 7,149 acres of land at Savagaon and adjoining villages on the outskirts of Belgaum for the firing range, on May 24, 2000 for 20 years. Of this, 1,309 acres belonged to the State government, and the rest to private persons. Suresh Angadi and Prabhakar Kore said the government had illegally and unconstitutionally notified the lands, which had affected farmers and land owners. The government had no right to notify private lands without first seeking the owners’ consent.
In the various debates in Parliament Mr.Angadi has asked about the Shifting of the Bagdad Asmara Firing Range, Regarding need to transfer land belonging to Defence Department in Belgaum district.
The college Angadi institute of Technology and Management is run by Suresh Angadi Education Foundation which has been established by Suresh Angadi and his wife Smt. Mangala Suresh Angadi in 2008.