Mumbai, (THe Hindu): Union Minister Nitin Gadkari said on Thursday that “not an inch” of land would be given for Navy housing in south Mumbai, wondering why all their personnel want to stay in this posh area when they should be at the borders.
“There is no Navy in Malabar Hill, they had no right to deny permission. Their job is only to protect our borders from terrorists,” he said on Thursday while laying the foundation stone for an international cruise terminal at Mumbai Port.
Mr. Gadkari, who is the Minister for Road Transport and Highways, Shipping and Water Resources, was voicing his disappointment at the Navy’s objection to a floating jetty at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, where a floating hotel and seaplane service are planned. The Minister’s remarks came in the presence of Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Girish Luthra.
Senior government officials said the disagreement between the Indian Navy and the Maharashtra government has been brewing for a while. In fact, the government had in a 2013 report proposed that the entire Naval establishment be moved from South Mumbai to Raigad in the future, but this was opposed by the Navy top brass, officials said.
There have been other issues too, including setting up of a weather monitoring radar, heights of structures around naval establishments and, the excavation rules under the Coastal Regulation Zone, which has no jurisdiction over the Navy.
Mr. Gadkari said, “Actually, Navy is needed at the borders from where terrorists sneak in. Why does everyone [in the Navy] want to stay in South Mumbai? They had come to me, asking for a plot. I will not give even an inch of land.”
He wondered what Navy has to do with Malabar Hill which is primarily a private residential zone with official residences of the Governor and CM. “We do respect you (Navy), but you should go to Pakistan border and do patrolling,” he added. A few important and senior officials can stay in Mumbai, he said adding that land on the eastern seafront could be utilised for the benefit of the locals.
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