The Indian Navy has formally raised its concern about the Geeta Nagar slums with the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA), and Assembly Speaker.
Located in Colaba, the ghetto is home to over 40,000 people who have their houses right next to the Navy's air base INS Shikra. Terming it as a security threat, the Indian Navy said, “As far as the issue of security is concerned, this is a live problem. It's a problem that worries us. I have had discussions with the Chief Minister, Chief Secretary, and SRA as well as Assembly Speaker (Rahul Narwekar) because Colaba is his constituency. Each one of them has given us assurances,” said Vice Admiral Ajendra Bahadur Singh, Flag Officer Commanding in Chief, Western Naval Command.
Hoping for a Dharavi redevelopment-type solution, Vice Admiral Singh further said, “We are equally worried and have told the same to the state government. Whenever we raise the height of the boundary wall (of INS Shikra), on the other side they raise the height of their building. With slum redevelopment happening in a big way and Dharavi's revamp getting awarded, I think we also have a future.” INS Shikra, formerly INS Kunjali, is a naval air station from where several of the Indian Navy's Western Naval Command operates and maintains its helicopters.
The current issue has its roots in the 1960s, when workers constructing the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research settled in the Geeta Nagar slums. For record purposes, the SRA has already completed a house number survey. The next step is to undertake a biometric survey of each slum inhabitant.
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