Kolkata: 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.
An Indian Army mountain strike corps is being raised while the Indian Air Force plans to have its second squadron of C-130J Super Hercules aircraft in Panagarh. The first two C-130J – a US aircraft capable of undertaking special force’s operations – touched down in the West Bengal base in July.
Once raised fully, the mountain strike corps (17 corps) will be headquartered in Barala, an area close to Panagarh. To be raised at a cost of Rs 64,000 crore, the new strike corpse with 80,000 troops and two divisions is scheduled to be ready by 2021-22.
The IAF has also spruced up its advanced landing grounds in the north east whereas road and rail links are being improved..com/content/628046/armys-planned-aviation-base-north.html