NAGPUR: Joy of building permanent homes in place of their hutments after getting funds under PM’s rural housing scheme was short-lived for over 250 residents of Nachangaon village near Wardha’s Pulgaon town.
As the construction started, they had a rude shock with Army jawans reaching their doorstep asking to them stop the work. Some had already demolished their old homes and begun construction as per the map sanctioned under the scheme. “Now they are in a limbo,” said a local leader.
Nachangaon borders the Central Ammunition Depot (CAD), Pulgaon. A pre-Independence set-up and nicknamed as Mecca of Ammunition, the CAD is the second largest storehouse of bombs in Asia.
Works of Defence Act, an over a century old British time law, regulates use of land in the vicinity of facilities like the CAD here.
According to sources Army, which cites the law, says it needs to determine the boundaries to ascertain the buffer zone required under the Act first. For CAD, which is a World War-II set up, the work of demarcating its boundaries remains to be done yet. The matter remains pending at Wardha town planning office, said sources involved in the matter.
Following a verbal query to defence PRO’s office, TOI was told that Army would strictly go by the Works of Defence Act, 1903. No further details were shared.
Last week, talks were held under the mediation of Wardha MP Ramdas Tadas. Sources who attended the meet said Army says its boundaries extend up to 1,820 metres from the CAD. Once the boundary is determined exactly, work may be allowed. Safety of homes within the area would be Army’s responsibility only after that. There have been two major blasts in the CAD — one in 1989 and another in 2016, which killed over 16 people.
Deepak Fulkari, a local leader from BJP who attended the meeting, said villagers started construction sometime in January, but the Army stopped the work. This left the locals scared, who were under an impression that the lands are being acquired and hence they approached Tadas.
Tadas said the Army has assured that once the town planning department determines the CAD boundaries, construction may be allowed. The matter is pending with the town planning department for the last four years at least, said sources. The matter had come up sometime in 2011 also, said Fulkari.
Wardha collector Prerna Deshbhratar said an official of tehsildar’s rank is looking into the matter.