Pune: The land allotment to President Pratibha Devisingh Patil for construction of house here in Khadki has irked ex-servicemen. The retired Army officials, who are protesting against the defence land being given to the President, are demanding that the land should be reserved for those retired officials who do not have a house of their own.

According to Lt Col (Retd) Suresh Patil of NGO Green Thumb Group, they have no complaints against the President but the land belongs to the Army, therefore it should be reserved for them only.

Patil said the transfer of land to the President was discussed during Anna Hazare’s mass movement, and Hazare, who himself is an ex-serviceman, has opposed several things related to Defence.

“The President can get land elsewhere in Pune,” Patil added.

Although Patil says that the land was transferred with all the legal formalities, the move is likely to demoralize a lot of ex-servicemen.

“Since the President is the head of all defence forces, she should return the land. Defence officers should duly inform the President in this matter,” added Patil.

He said, “We don’t want another Adarsh Housing scam to take place here. If the land is given out like this, even the President’s post should be brought under the Lokpal’s ambit.”

Patil, who is backed by many ex-servicemen, further said, “There is already a shortage of houses for ex-servicemen in the city. There are around 50,000 families struggling to have their own houses.”

NGO’s co-ordinator Prabhakar Kondhalkar said the land has been given to the President at a petty amount of Rs 1.10 lakh while its actual value is in crores. “Despite this, the Defence Ministry issued a No Objection Certificate (NOC),” he added.

Meanwhile, president of the Maharashtra Military Foundation, Col (Retd) Jayant Chitale, who disagrees with the opposition to land allotment to President, says, “The President can get the land under special provisions. Besides, it has been sold at a cheap rate but there is nothing wrong in it.”

JPN/Bureau