The defence authorities have informed the Bombay high court that their naval installations would be vulnerable to terror attacks if permission is granted to TCI Industries to construct a multi-storied building on the land of the erstwhile Mukesh Mills in Colaba.
It has been further pointed out by the authorities that the construction of the building will also pose danger to VVIPs and heads of state of foreign countries, who use the helipads at the naval installation of INS Shikra.
An affidavit filed by Gita Perti, Defence Estates Officer, states that INS Shikra is located in an area populated by civilians and “the probability of threat followed by terrorist attack is very high and exists on a daily basis which can easily wipe out a large chunk of air assets leaving a wide gap in war waging capabilities of the Indian Navy.”
Citing the recent terrorist attack on PNS Mehran airbase in Karachi, the affidavit, filed through lawyers Rui Rodrigues and R S Rajguru, states, “the helipad of INS Shikra is frequently used by VVIPs and Heads of State of foreign countries and breach of security of such VVIPs could undermine the credibility of the country and have serious ramifications in international community.”
“There is no way of monitoring any clandestine activity …as the trees and shrubs existing on the land can enable terrorists to strike unnoticed,” Perti says.
The court was also told that part of the naval installation was surrounded by slums.
Additional solicitor general Darius Khambata submitted that the primary ground for opposing development is security reasons.
If that’s the case you should not have let the slums come up, a division bench of justice P B Majmudar and justice Mridula Bhatkar hinted.
Khambata admitted that this should not have happened.
“Some five-six people walked in with small bags and nobody bothered,” justice Majmudar said, referring to Kasab and his accomplices.
Now we are bothered. That was a wakeup call for everyone, Khambata submitted.
The court was also told that there is a dispute regarding the title deed of the land.
According to the Centre, the defence land was requisitioned by the government in 1942 and was leased to Mukesh Mills. In 1978, the lease deed was assigned in favour of TCI Industries.
In 2006, the Navy had objected to the construction on the plot adjoining INS Shikra as a high-rise would be a threat to the security of the naval establishment.
The corporation had then refused to pass the plan. TCI Industries had therefore filed a suit seeking a mandatory injunction on the corporation’s decision.
The case has been adjourned till next week.