During a meeting held on February 22, the Belagavi Cantonment Board made a decision to charge a license fee of Rs.53.85 lakhs per year. However, this decision has sparked a new dispute between the Belagavi city corporation and the Cantonment Board.
The project to lay a new water pipe line from the water treatment plant at Laxmi tek to Ghumtamal is currently underway. This pipe line is being laid under the 24-hour water scheme and passes through the cantonment limits. To complete the project, four kilometers must be excavated within the cantonment limits, requiring permission from the Cantonment Board.
The board has sent a proposal for permission to the Ministry of Defence, but has imposed a condition of paying a deposit for the same and an annual license fee of 53 lakh 85 thousand rupees. This means that approximately 70 lakh rupees will have to be paid to the board as a deposit amount.
The contract for the work of the 24-hour water scheme is with L&T Company, which has raised the question of who should pay the deposit amount and license fee. Due to the Cantonment Board’s decision, the work of laying the aqueduct has stopped, causing a water shortage in the southern part of the city.
In its resolution the Cantonment board mentions –
The Board noted with serious concern that since L&T authorities took over Operations & Maintenance (O&M) of water supply and collection of water charges of Belagavi City from Karnataka Urban Water Supply & Drainage Board (KUWS&D) in Jun 2021, the residents within Belagavi Cantonment area are facing severe acute water crisis in multiple occasions due to the poor service delivery and lackadaisical approach of L&T authorities in providing timely & adequate bulk drinking water supply to Cantonment Board, Belagavi.
Further, the Board noted that the L&T authorities are habitual disruptors of treated drinking water supply to Belagavi Cantonment area and had completely stopped the supply of treated drinking water to the residents of Belagavi Cantonment area for a continuous period of 19 days in Oct/Nov 2022, despite availability of the same in abundance, and thereby forcing the general poor public of Belagavi Cantonment area to drink untreated water from borewells and open wells, which is not only against public health, public interest, national interest & national security; and violative of established UN Conventions, judgements of Hon’ble Supreme Court/Hon’ble High Courts of India; but also reflects the apathy of L&T towards the general public.
The Board further noted that the residents within Belagavi Cantonment area are not at all benefitted through the ibid project, since Cantonment Board is NOT a beneficiary of 24×7 water supply scheme of Belagavi city, despite the main pipeline is passing through the Belagavi Cantonment area. Further, the Belagavi Cantonment Board was never consulted in the past, either at the DPR stage or at any stage of the ibid project.
However, in supportive view towards the decision of Karnataka State Government to implement the 24×7 water supply scheme of Belagavi city through L&T, after detailed deliberation & careful consideration and keeping in view the precarious state of financial health of the Cantonment Board, Belagavi, the Board resolved to finalize the alignment of the water supply pipeline passing through ‘C’ land, with the unanimous strong recommendation that Rs. 1000/m2 shall be charged towards annual license fee every year for the area of 5385 m² covered under Class ‘C’ land, under management of Cantonment Board, Belagavi, thereby amounting to an annual license fee of Rs. 53,85,000/-every year. Further, any super structures above ground on the defence land within cantonment area requires separate working permission of MoD, Gol, on payment of annual lease rent amount.
The Board further noted that in the ibid revised proposal to MoD, Gol, seeking working permission for L&T to lay water supply pipeline through defence land in Belagavi Cantonment for 24×7 water supply to Belagavi City (excluding Cantonment), there is NO clarity as to which government agency shall deposit the annual license fee to the Cantonment Board, Belagavi, before grant of working permission of MoD, Gol as per MoD, Gol Policy No. 11015/2/2012 D(Lands) dated 02.Feb.2016, (wherein if only permission to do something on the defence land without grant of any easement or interest therein is required (such as construction of flyovers, rail Over-bridges, laying electric cables, laying underground water or sewer pipe lines, domestic gas pipelines etc.), a license may be granted on payment of an annual licence fee which shall be determined on following general principles: For projects aimed at providing service or utility to public at large, proposed to be executed by the Central Government or a State Government or by organisation/bodies owned or fully controlled by them and by local bodies where the bulk of capital expenditure is to be borne by the Central, State or Local Government, a nominal annual licence fee varying from Rs. 1 to Rs. 1000/- per sq. meter or running meter, depending on the nature of public use and utility for the Military Station/Defence establishment/Cantonment will be charged and the specific range of licence fee chargeable under different categories will be subsequently worked out by DGDE and circulated.)
The Board also noted that in the revised proposal to MoD, Gol, since NO ibid documents were submitted by either L&T or State Government authorities, there is NO clarity on the scope of the work that’ll be carried out by L&T in the defence land within cantonment area.
It is imperative that the Cantonment Board and the municipality come to a resolution quickly to ensure that the project can continue and the water shortage can be resolved. The decision to charge a license fee and deposit amount should be reconsidered to avoid further delays and complications.