Army loses 53 firing ranges in 3 yrs, training set to suffer
States move to order shifting Belgaum facility is the latest setback
The Karnataka government’s decision to direct the Maratha Light Infantry Regiment to shift the Baghdad Asmara Firing Range at Savagaon in Belgaum district, after it withdrew the lease on November 27, will result in a major training hurdle for the Indian Army, which has lost 53 firing ranges since 2009.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, a well-placed source in the Ministry of Defence (MoD) said: “Out of the total 104 firing ranges the Army had in 2009, 38 firing ranges were deleted from the list in 2009, due to their unavailability for use by the Army and also for not being re-notified by the state governments concerned.”
The 38 firing ranges that have been deleted from the list affect the Eastern Command the most.
It has lost 14 ranges, while the Central and Southern Commands have lost seven each. The Western Command has lost five ranges and the South Western and Northern Commands have lost two ranges each.
Barring the 38 firing ranges that have been deleted from the list, 15 other ranges are currently de-notified by the various state governments.
Of the 15, two ranges – Marihal and Ramdurg - have been de-notified by the Government of Karnataka. The withdrawal of the lease in Belgaum is an addition to this.
Major General K S Venugopal, General Officer Commanding, Karnataka and Kerala Sub Area, said: “We have the commando training facility, the junior leader wing and other facilities there (Belgaum). All of it will get affected, if we are suddenly told to stop training.”
He said the Army Headquarters would intervene and that the matter would be taken up with the Centre.
The State Revenue department officials had said that the action had been initiated as the decision to extend the lease was taken without following mandatory provisions of law.
MoD officials said concerted efforts were being made to ensure early re-notification of the de-notified ranges.
“The concerned Army Commands are taking up the matter with the respective state governments,” one of them said, adding that simultaneous efforts were on for acquisition of more ranges.
Also, efforts are being made to convince the respective state governments and the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests to re-notify/acquire field firing ranges.