By arbitrarily refusing to give No Objection Certificates (NOC) to a Rs. 100-cr. slum redevelopment project in Worli, Mumbai, the Western Naval Command has made more than 240 families homeless. The Naval authorities, however, have given a go-ahead to construction projects which have come up closer to the naval installations in the past. The Hindu has reliably learnt that the permission has been denied despite the fact that the field-level naval authorities entrusted with reviewing the structure for security threats had given the green signal to the project with certain restrictions.
SSV Developers started construction for the project at plot 208, 209 of Mahakali Nagar at Hardikar Marg in Worli 2004. “We were not told then that we needed permission from the Navy. We had taken all the necessary permissions. But in 2010, when we had already completed seven floors, the Navy approached us one fine day and asked us to stop the construction. It was followed by a stop-work notice from the Slum Redevelopment Authority in 2011,” Dinesh Bora, partner, SSV Developers, said.
The 240 families have been staying in transit accommodation since 2006 in the hope that they would soon get to step into their own house. But they stare at an uncertain future now.
Naval officials told The Hindu on condition of anonymity that INS Trata and Headquarters Maharashtra and Gujarat Naval Area (HQMAGNA) had recommended in 2011 that permission be granted to the builder for construction only up to 34.50 metres for the building in which flats are to be commercially sold, and complete 28.10 metres for the rehabilitation building.
The Western Naval Command rejected the recommendations and denied NOC.
Meanwhile, the Navy has conveyed to the civic authorities that due to “security reasons” they are denying the NOC, despite the builders writing to them several times about the previous projects which were much closer to their sites and were granted permissions.
Close to INS Trata sites
Naval officers said there are five sites of INS Trata in Worli area. Of them, site V is the most critical as it houses a mobile missile launcher. The Navy has laid down stipulations specifying the distance at which a project needs to take permission from them. In this case, the construction project is close to site III of INS Trata, which is an open ground. The site is already surrounded by a few multi-storied buildings.
“They used to train their horses there. They probably played some games. I don’t understand what their problem is, if we get a view of their sports skills,” argued 55-year old Jayashree Arjun Dukhande, a slum resident from the area who has been staying in transit accommodation since the time the construction began in 2006.
“We have sent them a legal notice, since we are finding it difficult to bear losses mounting to crores of rupees every year. But they haven’t yet responded,” Mr. Bora said.
Priority to security
Meanwhile, Narendrakumar Vispute, Chief Defence Public Relations Officer said, “The defence gives NOC or permission for construction in the vicinity of defence installations, but only on a case-to-case basis, after a careful study of the building construction plan. The highest priority is given to the safety and security of the defence forces.”
Despite repeated attempts, the Western Naval Command did not answer specific queries regarding allegations of arbitrariness.