Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday lashed out at the Indian Navy over its alleged objection to a floating jetty project at Malabar Hill in Mumbai, and accused the force of "obstructing work," India Today reported.
Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari has courted controversy with his remarks on navy officials as he slammed them for obstructing development work.
— IndiaTodayFLASH (@IndiaTodayFLASH) January 11, 2018
Gadkari felt that the jetty did not pose any security risk. “What has the navy got to do with Malabar Hill? They should be guarding the borders,” said Gadkari was quoted as saying by Hindustan Times.
He was speaking at an event where he laid the foundation stone along with Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis for an international cruise terminal at Mumbai Port Trust.
CM @Dev_Fadnavis and Union Minister @nitin_gadkari at Foundation Stone Laying Ceremony of new International Cruise Terminal in Mumbai, making Mumbai a Global Cruise Destination !
Project cost: ₹300crore,
Project completion: by December 2019,
Tourists expected : 7 lakh/annum pic.twitter.com/HN2ZOzW1Qq
— CMO Maharashtra (@CMOMaharashtra) January 11, 2018
"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 Union minister further claimed the naval officers wanted prime homes but said that they "should stay on the Pakistani border." He made the remarks in presence of Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Girish Luthra.
"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.
He further added that "a few important and senior officials can stay in Mumbai," and that 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 has a sizeable presence of Navy officers, and houses the headquarters of the Western Naval Command, as well as the naval residential quarters at Navy Nagar in Colaba.
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.
Claiming that stopping such developmental work has become a habit, Gadkari wondered what has the navy got to do with the Malabar Hill area which is primarily a private residential zone also having official residences of Maharashtra governor and chief minister.
"Where is the navy at Malabar Hill? There is no navy at Malabar Hill and the navy has nothing to do in the area," Gadkari said and invited the navy for talks to resolve the issue.
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," 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 high court 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.
With inputs from PTI
Updated Date: Jan 11, 2018 16:18 PM