Not just Adarsh, slums too pose threat to naval base | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Not just Adarsh, slums too pose threat to naval base

mumbai Updated: Dec 02, 2010 02:20 IST
Presley Thomas

Adarsh Cooperative Housing Society is not the only structure that could prove to be a potential threat to Mumbai's naval base near Colaba.

There is a large tract of naval land in south Mumbai encroached upon by slum dwellers against whom the state government failed to act, Vice-Admiral Sanjeev Bhasin, flag officer commanding in chief of the Western Naval Command, told the Hindustan Times on Wednesday.

The Navy has now asked ask the Director-General of Defence Estates to scrutinise defence property records in Mumbai and start acquiring the land.

The Sunder Nagar slum is near the helicopter gunship base INS Shikra, which was recently used by US marines during President Barack Obama's visit. "It is a critical location. The residents can see helicopters taking off and landing from a close distance. The slum poses a threat," said Bhasin.

Gita Nagar is close to the naval base. "We have written to the Maharashtra government to rehabilitate slum dwellers and return the land to us. The government promised that rehabilitation would happen this year, but nothing happened. We hope we can get the land back next year," Bhasin said.

According to Defence Ministry records, there is also large-scale slum encroachment on defence land at Kalyan. Slum dwellers have even started cultivating the land, rendering it impossible for use by armed forces.

"The procedure to acquire revenue land [around sensitive defence installations] has been initiated to prevent future encroachments," Bhasin said.

Bhasin said the Navy objected to Adarsh only after it was constructed because "the Navy was given charge of coastal security only in February 2009. Before that, we did not have the authority. I was initially under the impression that it was a building for service personnel". He added: "The Central Bureau of Investigation is probing the matter. If involvement of serving officers is found, action will be taken."