A go-ahead from the Ministry of Defence and delinking of compensation discussions from that of land alienation, are yet to make Army land available for the MMTS project. The Army in Secunderabad rebuts Railways’ claims that it is stalling the project.
As part of the MMTS Phase-II project, a 23-km railway line, running between Sanathnagar and Moula Ali, was to be doubled. About 4 km of this line, between Suchitra and Sanathnagar, exists on Defence land, which the Railways had used to lay the first line in the past. However, when the Railways sought to lay a parallel line post-2014, the Local Military Authority (LMA) objected. Difference in the quantum of compensation awarded by the Railways and the State government for the Defence land was cited as the reason for objection. Consequently, 64-acres of land, that was once handed over to railways to build a track is no longer available, Railway officials say, even as work on rest of the stretch nears completion.
“Around 90 % of the work on the stretch is complete. The rest can go ahead only if the local military authority allows the use of land,” a senior Railway official said.
The existing line runs through a firing range that has been not been in use for many years. In compensation for the Defence land, neither the State government nor the Railways have been able to provide land of equal value to the Ministry of Defence. The demand for equal value land has also been the bone of contention between the State government and the Army in other transactions. Defence sources informed that one of the main reasons for Army’s demand is to have a state-of-art firing range facility, far from civilian settlements. The firing facilities that the Army had in Secunderabad and surrounding area are now enclosed by thick civilian settlements, as in the case of Bowenpally and Kowkur.
A breakthrough for the mass transport project appeared within arm’s reach last year, when a high-level ministerial committee was constituted to discuss compensation while delinking it from ground-level development of the project. A State-level board comprising representatives of the Telangana government, Railways and the Army, was also set up to resolve the issue. The Ministry of Defence informed the LMA to give its nod, Railway officials claimed, adding that the LMA has not acted yet.
Denying the Railway’s version of events, Army officials informed that the recommendations of the board and the Defence Ministry, along with that of the LMA, have been forwarded to the next level of command and the matter is being actively pursued to favour the project.