Union minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday came down hard on the Indian Navy for “obstructing” a floating jetty project at Mumbai’s Nariman Point. Wondering why all Navy officials need to stay in the posh South Mumbai area, Gadkari said that “not an inch” of land would be given to Navy to build flats or quarters in the area.
“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 (Navy) had come to me, asking for a plot (of land). I will not give even an inch of land. Please don’t come to me again,” Gadkari said. The minister’s remarks came at a public event in Mumbai in the presence of Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Girish Luthra.
Gadkari’s outburst comes in the backdrop of the Indian Navy’s refusal to the construction of a floating jetty at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, where a floating hotel and seaplane service are planned.
Claiming that stopping such developmental work had become a habit, Gadkari wondered what the Navy had got to do with the Malabar Hill area which is primarily a private residential zone also having official residences of Maharashtra governor and the Chief Minister.
“Everyone wants to build quarters and flats on south Mumbai’s prime land. We do respect you (Navy), but you should go to the Pakistan border and do patrolling,” Gadkari said.
#WATCH: Union Minister Nitin Gadkari says, ‘Navy is needed at the borders, from where terrorists come, why does everyone (in Navy) want to live in South Mumbai? They came to me asking for a plot, I said I will not give even an inch of land.’ pic.twitter.com/45gQDlbcBP
— ANI (@ANI) January 11, 2018
Gadkari said that a few important and senior officials staying in Mumbai was understandable but land on the eastern seafront being jointly developed by the state-run Mumbai Port Trust and the Maharashtra government, would be utilised only for the benefit of local citizens.
South Mumbai is home to a sizable presence of the Navy and houses the headquarters of the Western Naval Command, as well as the naval residential quarters at Navy Nagar in Colaba in south Mumbai.
Berths for naval ships are close to the Port Trust assets used by merchant ships. Over time, a lot of cargo handling has moved out of the Mumbai Port, one of the oldest ports in the country.
“I heard that you (Navy) gave a stay to the floating jetty plan at Malabar Hill, despite it getting the high court’s nod,” Gadkari said.
The Bombay High Court had on Monday refused to give permission for an ambitious luxury floating hotel near Nariman Point in South Mumbai on the grounds that it did not have the no objection certificate (NOC) from the Western Naval Command.
A division bench of justices AS Oka and PN Deshmukh had dismissed the petition filed by Rashmi Development Pvt Ltd, challenging an order passed by the Brihanmumbai Municipal Corporation and a committee denying permission for the construction of the floating hotel, jetty and ramps abutting the Marine Drive promenade.
In its order, the HC had noted that the letters issued by the city police, the Western Naval Command and the Coast Guard on the issue were misconstrued by the company as NOCs.
“The Western Naval Command had never granted NOC for erection of the floating hotel. All that their letter records is that the safety and security issues will have to be examined first,” the bench had said.
“Even the Coast Guard in its letter says that a security audit will have to be carried out first before permission is granted for construction of a floating hotel and jetty,” it had said.
Gadkari said he chairs a committee for stalled infrastructure projects, adding that projects are cleared “as soon as they come on the agenda”.
“We are the government. The Navy and the Defence Ministry are not the government.”
(With PTI inputs)