22 Feb, 2012, 08.35AM IST, The writer article Rajshri Mehta,TNN
MUMBAI: With the Maharashtra government shying away from implementing the 2011 ministry of environment & forests order to demolish Adarsh, the defence ministry has opened another front to reclaim land on which the controversial 31-storey building stands in Colaba.
The local army unit has filed a writ demanding that Adarsh be declared a security threat to the Colaba military station. Calling it a 'private' society, the petition said Adarsh being the tallest building overlooks military establishments like the Electrical and Mechanical Engineering (EME) workshop, a storage and disbursal depot for petrol, oil and lubricants, within 27 metres to a maximum 400 metres.
"The entire top decision-making echelons-the General Officer Commanding (GOC) window being clearly visible-at the headquarters of the Maharashtra, Gujarat and Goa (MG&G) area can be eliminated with sniper rifles and other hand-held weapons with the building barely 200 metres away,'' the petition filed through Deepak Saxena, major general (chief of staff) of MG&G area, said.
Citing the case of US president Barack Obama watching live in Washington the operation to kill al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden in Pakistan, the petition pointed out that it may be possible for residents of the building to observe numbers and types and movement of personnel, specialist and general purpose vehicles that may be parked in the workshop, from which their availability/serviceability can be analyzed.
"...potential residents of Adarsh and their guests, who could be foreign nationals, will not be under the jurisdiction of the Indian Navy or Indian Army authorities and hence not amenable to security checks," army officials added, detailing a range of hand-held weapons available with terrorists that can be smuggled into Adarsh.
The army pointed to violations in provisions of development control regulation 16, which states the municipal commissioner can reject a building proposal if he considers it to be source of danger to the health and safety of inhabitants of the neighbourhood.
The role of five GOCs from 1999 to 2010 as being responsible for the security risk arising from the building was also pointed out. "Each successive GOC, be it A R Kumar, V S Yadav, T K Kaul, Tejinder Singh and R K Hooda, or their family members, were given a flat and thus, none objected to the land under occupation and owned by the army to Adarsh," officials said.
To buttress security concerns, the army cited the example of Pakistani American national David Coleman Headley, currently in US custody, who surveyed sites across the city before the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai.
The army said that to ensure a Adarsh-like situation is not repeated, they (in addition to the Western Naval Command) have sent a proposal to the defence ministry to restrict the construction and height of private buildings around 500 metres of the military station.
It added that as early as June 2003, the then defence estate officer has raised the issue of a security threat with the collector of Mumbai. In fact, it mentioned that the occupation certificate (OC) was issued to Adarsh despite a written request to the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority ( MMRDA) to withhold its issuance, citing security concerns in 2010.
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