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|The Ministry of Defence has promised to turn over military-owned land near HCM City’s Tân Sơn Nhất Airport, if required by the government. A golf course, which opened in 2015, is located on the land. - VNA/VNS photo Hoàng Hải|
Speaking at a conference yesterday in the city, Lt. Col Trần Đơn said that military units would not be allowed to sign new leases of the land until 2020.
“This is the main goal of the Central Military Commission,” he said at the conference, held to discuss land use around the airport.
To ease traffic congestion near the airport, Đơn has asked military units and local authorities to remove three gas stations and 50 kiosks along Trường Chinh Street in Tân Bình District within a month.
He said the Ministry of Defence would hand over the cleared land to Tân Bình District authorities, and would work with the city government to repair airport fences.
Land owned by the military in the city totals more than 1,000 hectares, according to the Ministry of Defence.
“However, these land areas have not been planned well and are under management of many units,” Đơn said.
The management and use of military land for economic purposes in the Tân Sơn Nhất airport has been a contentious issue since 1975.
But, in recent years, management has improved, with boundary markers and fences erected on land plots in the city owned by the military, including the airport.
“Military-owned land should be used in a careful yet flexible manner for just defence purposes or for both defence and economic development,” he said.
Since 2014, the Ministry of Defence has handed over a total of 52.2ha of its land located near the Tân Sơn Nhất airport.
Of this, the city government has received 12 hectares, while the Transport Ministry was given 40.2 ha to build roads near the airport to reduce traffic jams, reservoirs; and to expand the airport, including runways, aprons and new passenger terminals.
At the conference, Đơn also addressed the controversy surrounding the golf course bordering Tân Sơn Nhất airport.
“The golf course is actually located on military land. If the government decides to take it back from the ministry to build a runway, for instance, the Ministry will be willing to hand it over at any time,” he said.
Recently, the Defence Ministry has halted all ancillary constructions like villas and apartments on the golf course area while the government works on an airport expansion plan.
Covering more than 157 ha of military land, the US$100-million golf course was approved in 2007 and has been in use since 2015.
Several lawmakers have said the space would be better used by the airport.
The 574ha airport receives 32 million passengers a year, beyond its designed capacity of 25 million. Its parking spaces designed for 57 aircraft sometimes has to handle more than 70 planes at a time.