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Ground tussle with army ends

The Himachal Pradesh government has decided to end its battle with the army over ownership of Shimla’s Anandale Ground, dashing the state cricket association’s plans to build a stadium there, reports our correspondent.

On Monday evening, Congress chief minister Virbhadra Singh ordered withdrawal of the state government’s arbitration case against the army over possession of the ground.

The previous BJP government had filed the case with the Shimla divisional commissioner last April, claiming the army’s lease on the ground had expired in 1982.

Then chief minister P.K. Dhumal had been in favour of building the stadium, a plan the army had opposed. It had levelled land-grab charges at Dhumal.

On Monday, Lt Gen. Sanjiv Chachra, GOC-in-C, Western Command, met Virbhadra and stressed the ground’s importance for army operations “along the northern borders (and) any unforeseen disaster relief contingency operations”, an army release said.

Virbhadra, who had earlier criticised the BJP move to take the ground over, announced: “Keeping in view the importance of the Anandale ground, the government has decided to withdraw the arbitration proceedings.”