Anti-terror centre or yogashram? Govt in a fix

Police and Baba Ramdev's ashram vie for 10 acres of land at Agara on Kanakapura Road

Anti-terror centre or yogashram? Govt in a fix

Hindsight might be a privilege governments and decision makers do not have. But even foresight, it appears, is too much to expect of them.

A decision on allotting 10 acres of land at Agara on Kanakapura Road here is pending for about a year as authorities are unable to determine whom to allot the same. While the police force wants to set up a centre for counterterrorism, Baba Ramdev’s Patanjali Yogashrama Trust has aimed to establish a yogashram on the said site.

The delay in deciding on the matter has amused even the officials in the Revenue Department. “...If a security agency wants land for a training facility and an ashram also wants it, where is the confusion? The police force should get it,” one of them said, wishing anonymity. The ashram can be given land elsewhere, they added.

Bhaskar Rao, Inspector General of Police (IGP), Internal Security Division (ISD), said it was “unfortunate” that the police had to compete with an ashram for government land. “Baba Ramdev wants the land... So do we, but not for multi-storey buildings for commercial gains.”
The ISD asked for 40 acres from the erstwhile BJP government and got only 29 acres, Rao said. “Now, the Trust wants the 10 acres we have been requesting for,” he said, adding that the ISD would not give up its claim. “The BJP government had various priorities. But we are certain that the new government’s priority is national security and professionalism.
Fortunately, the land has not yet been allotted to the Trust,” Rao said. Going through the correspondence between the previous government and the Trust, it is clear that the former did consider the request. No decision, however, has been taken as yet.

The centre proposed by ISD was envisaged to train the elite counterintelligence/counterterrorism squad being built by Karnataka. Construction has already begun on 29 acres of land. The centre will have an obstacle course training facility, short firing range, a tactical room, a sand-model room, demolition and blasting sections, among other role-specific training facilities. Besides, it will have a parade ground and general physical training area, an officer said.

At present, counterterrorism personnel are trained at the 9th Battalion of the Karnataka State Reserve Police (KSRP) at Kudlu and the training is headed by Major-General K A Muthanna.

“That land belongs to KSRP. We have to return it eventually and move to Agara,” Rao said, adding that the current facility is “not fully suitable” for counterintelligence training.
The elite squad has nearly 700 personnel, including officers, and their strength is bound to increase.

“We will need the right infrastructure to make them among the best,” Rao added. Only young personnel would be recruited for the purpose and would ideally serve in the force for only about five years. “...Thereafter, we would need a new batch of people, which means that continuous training is needed — something impossible without a permanent facility,” he said.
Representatives of the Trust confirmed that they applied for land but claimed they had no connection with Ramdev.

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