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Authorities cited rules to shatter war veteran's dream; tweaked them for Prez

Author: TN Raghunatha
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: April 27, 2012
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/home/online-channel/360-todays-newspaper/60842-authorities-cited-rules-to-shatter-war-veterans-dream-tweaked-them-for-prez.html

Amid a raging controversy on how the rules were bent to allot defence A1 land in Khadki cantonment to the President, there comes a contrasting story on how the authorities used the same rules to deny permission to a war veteran to build a post-retirement home on his own plot of land in Deolali.

Ironically enough, the Deolali Cantonment Board (DCB) authorities deployed the same rules governing the “defence A1 land” surrounding his private plot admeasuring 7,500 sq metres of land, as a ruse to scatter Lt Col (retd) AK Heble’s dreams of settling down in north Maharashtra’s Deolali town — which is home to the Indian Army’s school of Artillery.

Ahead of formally denying permission to Lt Col (retd) Heble, the DCB went to the extent “usurping” 1,900 sq metres of land from the war veteran’s plot of 7,500 sq metres of land — all in the name of land “re-survey”.

“The DCB officials went out of their way to falsify their own records, manage those in the District Inspector of Land Records (DILR) office, Nashik, to facilitate the merger of 1,900 sq metres of land belonging to me with the defence A1 land surrounding my property,” Heble alleges.

However, Lt Col (retd) Heble continued paying land revenue for the entire 7,500 sq metres for the next 18 years after the “re-survey”.

Ironically enough, the same DCB and Station Headquarters, Deolali, had given an NOC for converting the plot of 7,500 sq metres of land into “no-agricultural” in July 1986, four years prior to Heble and his family members pooled their hard earned money of Rs 15 lakh and bought the land.

The DCB and Station Headquarters, Deolali, also overruled the directive to them by the Army Commander, Southern Command, who permitted Heble to use the access road and asked the board to sanction the building plan subject to all conditions being met.

“The building application should now be considered for sanction if otherwise in order and meets the requirements of the title over the land, FSI, Cantonment building bye-laws etc, and does not involvement encroachment,” the office of the Southern Command’s General Officer-in-Command-in Chief (GoC-in-C) wrote to the president of Deolali Cantonment Board, on September 16,1991.

The GoC-in-C’s directive to the contrary to the then DCB president notwithstanding, the DCB refused building permission to Lt Col (retd) Heble. The ostensible reason that the DCB cited for denying Heble permission to build a house on his private land was that the land he and his family members owned had no access road and was surrounded on three sides by the defence A1 land.

Having held onto the land without undertaking construction for 20 long years ( from 1990 to 2010), a despondent war veteran Lt Col (retd) Heble sold the land in two tranches at a collective distress price of Rs 38 lakh in May-July 2010, as against the prevailing land value of Rs 1.32 crore. In fact, the buyer paid the stamp duty for the land value of Rs 1.32 crore. Curiously enough, the man who bought it was a family member of DCB member.

“Since then I wasted many years of my life wanting to settle down in Deolali, I tried to reason possible manner with the DCB and Army headquarters, Maharashtra, Goa and Gujarat. I lost the battle because my unwillingness to pay out bribes to people in uniform at the local level and civilians who touted for them,” Col (retd) Heble told The Pioneer over telephone from New Delhi.

A war veteran, Lt Col (retd) Heble was injured in the Chhamb-Jaurian Sector of J&K and was hospitalised for six months. “Again in 1971, I fought war on the western border in Punjab. Soon after 1971 war both my parents took seriously ill in December 1971. Therefore, I sought a posting on compassionate grounds and decided to keep my parents with me and look after them... Since I had completed mandatory 20 years, I decided to leave the service and settle down in New Delhi in 1984,” Lt Col (retd) Heble said.

“The demands of every person involved in sanctioning building plans were enormous and beyond any reason. They wanted an arm and a leg that included half my land free/gratis along with cash totaling up to about Rs 4 lakh, an amount that in 1990 seemed way beyond,” he said.

“The battle only grew worse after my refusal to pay the bribes. I then reported the matter to the Late Lt Gen BC Joshi, GOC-in-C, Southern Command, but nothing happened. But, soon afterwards, I was banned from using the access road. So much so that a barrier was erected to prevent from accessing my plot of land,” Col (retd) Heble recalled.

“Since the land was in disuse for 20 years, had no commercial value and even after 20 years there were no buyers, I sold the land at a distress price of Rs 38 lakh to the family member of DCB member. Such was the sad state of affairs that the buyer paid stamp duty based on a price of the prevailing ready reckoner market value of the land which was estimated at Rs 1.32 crore,” Heble said.
 
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