Now Mamata Banerjee Government becomes hurdle in Indian Army’s Plan of Aviation Base in West Bengal

It seems Mamata Banerjee has decided to oppose every possible initiative taken by the Central Government and associated institutions. Till this extent it was quite understandable, as her hatred against central government is out in open.

However a new tussle between Mamata Government and Indian Army has simply shocked us. Indian Army was planning to open an aviation base in Northern parts of West Bengal, but it has hit a roadblock with the state government jacking up the land price by almost 15 times from the base value proposed earlier.

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, which is also known as 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.

These negotiations were started five years ago during the first regime of Mamata Government. However now it has been stalled and it is drastically impacting the preparedness of India Army against China on Eastern front.

It has been also observed that over the years the negotiators from the state government have increased the base price by nearly 15 times because of which the Army couldn’t acquire the land in Shaugaon till now. 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 Indian Air Force has also spruced up its advanced landing grounds in the north east whereas road and rail links are being improved.

Manish Sharma