Extension of Lease for Kalith Range Not Granted by Govt

The Jammu and Kashmir government has not extended the lease of Kalith firing range in Jammu, biggest in the state, leading to halt in firing practices by jawans here, army officials said.

"There is no firing practice taking place in Kalith firing range after the expiry of the lease in June 2014. There is no training of jawans taking place since then", Brigade Commander of 52 Infantry Brigade, Brig R S Bhadauria told reporters here.

Brig Bhadauria, who is supervising "Mission Humsafar" to remove unexploded shells from firing range in Kalith in Akhnoor border belt of Army's 10 Division, demanded immediate grant of extension of the lease.

"The delay in training at firing range and firing practice is causing great loss to the army to keep jawans and officers fit for counter-insurgency environment,'' the Brigade Commander said.

The process of write to state government for grant of the extension has been done six months ago before the date of expiry of the lease, the officer said, further claiming "this has happened for the first time that we are yet to get grant of extension."

The last time lease was granted for one decade in 2004. The lease of firing range is granted by J&K government for 10 years.

Falling in Jammu district, Kalith Field Firing Range is a notified range and is located in Akhnoor sub division. It is being used by the Army since 1970 for firing of Infantry and Artillery weapon systems.

"This firing range based on 89,000 acres in three sector in 1970 and now it is squeezed to 8000 acres," he said adding "If we cannot do any firing practice here, we have sent our troops to Rajasthan to do practice there."

Kalith Field Firing Range (KFFR) which is marked into separate zones for artillery, mortar and small-arms firing is located close to the Line of Control where many units of the Northern Command carry out regular field firing.

When asked about withholding of the grant of lease to army with regard of Kalith firing range, Divisional Commissioner, Jammu Zone, Shant Manu said "All formalities were completed by Deputy Commissioner Jammu and we recommended grant of lease to army for this range one month ago."

"The file has been sent to Commissioner State, Home Department for approval. We do not know anything," Divisional Commissioner said.

"Mission Humsafar" launched by the India Army under the aegis of Cross Swords Division is a clean-up drive at Kalith Field Firing Ranges commenced on August 5 and will continue till the entire range area is sanitised, army officers said.

During the mission, the army is carrying out the physical search of the impact area of the ranges by using explosive detector dogs, remote-operated vehicles, mine prodders, deep search metal detectors and bomb disposal teams, they said.

So far, it has carried out the search of 80 per cent of impact area of 'W' Sector (Artillery Range) and 75 per cent of the area of 'X' Sector (Mortar and Demolition Range), they said.

Army is using a combination of manual and technologically advanced techniques for clearing the area. In the initial phase, the Army would be sanitising the complete impact area of 'X' Sector and 'W' Sector."

Thereafter a deliberate search will be carried out to search the complete range area to ensure that no unexploded bomb is leftover.

The drive follows 'Operation Falah' (welfare) launched by the army to clear Kashmir's Tosa Maidan area of unexploded shells last week.

Kalith Field Firing Range (KFFR) which is marked into separate zones for artillery, mortar and small-arms firing is located close to the Line of Control where many units of the Northern Command carry out regular field firing.

With the establishment of Kalith Field Firing Range Cell at Station HQ Pallanwala since July 2011, the ranges have been safe and incident-free and no civilian causality has been reported to have occurred inside the range area as a result of the blinds, an official said.

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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