Following closely on the heels of the Mumbai airport,that has long been troubled by slums encroaching into 272 acres of its land meant for aeronautical purposes,the newly commissioned helicopter base of the Indian Navy,INS Shikra is facing a similar problem.
INS Shikra was commissioned as a naval air base on Thursday by Chief of Naval Staff (CNS),Admiral Sureesh Mehta with Captain Philipose George Pynumootil as its first Commanding Officer (CO).
A naval officer requesting anonymity said,There are two slum areas of Sunder Nagar and Azad Nagar about an acre each that have encroached into naval land that can otherwise be used to extend base facilities.
According to the officer,owing to their proximity to the base,the slums,not only pose a security threat but also disturb functioning at the base.
The slums of Azad Nagar and Sunder Nagar are on navy land and the navy is trying to relocate them. The navy has also organised a meeting of the state housing secretary and its officers on this matter, said Kishor Kshirsagar,Deputy Municipal Commissioner,Zone I.
According to Kshirsagar,there are 800 to 900 hundred hutments with a population of four to five thousand residing at the two slums.
INS Shikra is the only base under the Western Naval Command (WNC) and the commands second aviation base after INS Hansa in Goa. INS Shikra was operational as Naval Air Station Kunjali II since 1998 and as a subunit of INS Kunjali since 1964.