With the second diplomatic enclave in here ready for moving in, the Union Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) has convened a meeting with the embassies interested in scaling down the exorbitant rents -- the first step in a long and arduous negotiation over price rates and transfer of ownership.
Official sources said that the MEA’s protocol division has invited the foreign diplomats to a meeting on June 26, to unveil the plans for the diplomatic enclave.
The meeting is expected to provide feedback on the road ahead, with the embassies expected to provide information on the requirements regarding the size of the plot required, among other issues.
The sprawling 70-acre diplomatic enclave had been identified by the Delhi Development Authority in Dwarka phase II in 2007, but the allotment had been delayed.
Now, the ministry will have to grapple with the negotiations on plot transfer as several countries would prefer to do a land swap of a similar size plot for Indian diplomatic properties in their respective capital.
In 2007, 39 countries had expressed interest in being allotted land at the second diplomatic enclave, since they did not have any place in Chanakyapuri.
In recent years, there has been a spurt in the number of countries, most of them from African and Latin American, opening their missions here as India’s diplomatic profile rises and Indian corporate scout around abroad looking for investments. Now, there are about 50 embassies and High Commissions functioning out rented properties. South Sudan’s Deputy Chief of Mission in India James P Morgan had a long search as he scoured through properties in Vasant Vihar and Anand Niketan for a suitable mission for the nascent country. Finally, the South Sudan flag was hoisted atop of a farmhouse located on the city outskirts last year. “We will be certainly interested in getting land to build an embassy,” he said. The transaction, he hoped, would be a swap rather than a purchase. “We have allotted land to India in Juba, so we would prefer to do a swap,” he said. He is of course not alone. But, for New Delhi, such a transaction does not make any sense, commercially. “Delhi’s land price rates are very high, compared to their capitals, so a land swap does not really work for us… Our policy is we buy, they buy,” said a senior government official.