Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Army's planned aviation base in north Bengal, stuck in land price negotiation

New Delhi: Indian Army's plan to open up an aviation base in the northern parts of West Bengal has hit a roadblock with the state government jacking up the land price by almost 15 times from the base value.

The stalled negotiations that began nearly five years ago adversely impacted Army's preparedness against China on the eastern front.

The Eastern Command and Siliguri-based 33 Corps of the Indian Army was in talk with the West Bengal government to acquire large tracts of land to set up a composite aviation base that will be crucial for the surveillance of Siliguri corridor – the chicken neck area in the northern parts of West Bengal that connects the north east India with the mainland. The base was also to house the Army's unmanned aerial vehicles.

“However, over the years the negotiators from the state government increased the price by nearly 15 times because of which the Army couldn't acquire the land in Shaugaon till now,” a source told DH. The central government initially allocated nearly Rs 10.5 crore for the aviation base.

Out of the 228 acres of land identified by the Army, nearly 97 acres of land are in active possession of the Army and the state government's support was required for the rest of the land, which belongs to an abandoned tea estate.

The stalemate in West Bengal comes at a time when India is beefing up its military presence in the east in order to match China's military assertiveness.
14/08/17 Kalyan Ray/Deccan Herald