The South Delhi Municipal Corporation on Tuesday approved allotment of a 10-acre plot at Andheria Mor for the National Intelligence Grid (NATGRID). Conceived in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, NATGRID is responsible for enhancing India’s counter-terror capabilities by integrating databases of several Indian security agencies.
Incidentally, the foundation stone of the data centre and main office building of NATGRID was laid by the then Union Home Minister Sushil Kumar Shinde in December 2013 — 19 months before Tuesday’s approval. NATGRID officials had been writing to the chief town planner at South corporation, seeking approval for layout and infrastructure plans at the 10-acre plot. Owing to delays, Joint Secretary (Operations), NATGRID, R S Kota was forced to write directly to the South corporation commissioner in July 2014, requesting speedy approval of the layout plans.
After yet another letter to the South corporation by NATGRID’s deputy director the same year, the corporation found that it was the owner of the land, which had been allotted erroneously to NATGRID by the Delhi Development Authority (DDA), Assessor and Collector (South corporation) P K Jha claimed. The corporation had held ownership of the 22.15-acre plot at Andheria Mor since 1976 which, officials claimed, the civic body was not aware of.
The civic body pursued the matter with the Ministry of Home Affairs and the DDA, showing them notification of acquisition and other relevant documents proving its ownership of the plot. The DDA “summarily rejected” the South corporation’s claim and the Delhi chief secretary was asked to resolve the matter.
The South corporation’s fresh allotment, “purely in the interest of the nation”, will come at a cost for NATGRID. While the former allotment was made at Rs 1.88 crore per acre (2010-11), the land rates were further revised to Rs 3 crore per acre from 2012. Commissioner Puneet Goyal told The Indian Express that “NATGRID will have to pay the difference in amount as per the fresh rates”.
Meanwhile, ownership of the CRPF camp operating on the other half of the plot measuring approximately 12 acres is also being contested as the corporation claimed that files pertaining to the transfer of land to the CRPF had been lost. The standing committee has sought details from the DDA as to dates and conditions of land allotment to the CRPF.