Navy Gets Land, But No End to Row

The major hurdle before the Navy now is to get the land cleared of its existing establishments, which belong to the Army

NEW DELHI: Away from the high seas, the Navy has won a battle of sorts after 20 long years, wresting a key piece of land for building its headquarters here.

Though it is advantage Navy, there is still a lot of ground the force has to cover before its coveted headquarters takes shape.

As of now, the Navy is ready to lay the foundation stone for the new building on 5.41-acres on August 20. It is also ready with a blueprint for the construction of the headquarters at an estimated cost of `400 crore.

The land that has been identified is on Rajaji Marg, behind the Defence Research and Development Organisation Bhavan and opposite Sena Bhavan. Close to Raisina Hills, the plot is just a stone’s throw away from South Block and is located diagonally opposite the official residence of the British High Commissioner.

But the major hurdle before the Navy is to get the land cleared of its existing establishments, all belonging to the Army. The Army has been holding on to the land, which actually belongs to the Urban Development Ministry.

Apart from a parking lot on the premises for vehicles used by Armed Forces officers working at Sena Bhavan, the land also houses an Army canteen and a few commercial establishments such as tailoring shops and tea vending outlets, all occupying the World War-II hutments that were established there by the British  as their military barracks.

“The biggest challenge is to get the land vacated so that work on the Naval Headquarters can start. But implementation of that work is now at the door of the Ministry of Defence (MOD),” said a senior Navy officer, who did not wish to be named.

The task of identifying land for the Navy Headquarters has been a work in progress for two decades now and one of the plots that was proposed for it long ago was where the mammoth DRDO Bhavan stands today. “But there was no concrete, formal allotment of that land to the Navy. Hence it would be incorrect to claim that it was ours,” said another officer.

At present, the Navy’s establishments here function out of seven locations, including the South Block, Sena Bhavan, Varuna Complex near Delhi Airport, a building in R K Puram and another in Kailash Colony.

Once the planned new headquarters comes up, the Navy intends to vacate its offices at four of these locations and remain only in South Block, Varuna Complex, and at the new headquarters on Rajaji Marg.

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The New Indian Express