Friday, April 16, 2010

Naval Base at Karwar - The Untold Agony in the Achievements...

India is finally going in for a major expansion of its newest naval base at Karwar in coastal Karnataka, which provides it "strategic depth" on the western seaboard and will house aircraft carriers and nuclear submarines in the future.

This comes after a long delay since the ambitious `Project Seabird' to build the futuristic Karwar naval base was first approved by the government way back in 1985 at an initial cost of Rs 350 crore. Budgetary constraints derailed the project for a decade before a truncated Phase-I was approved in 1995, with the work finally commencing in 1999 with a Rs 2,500 crore fund allocation.

"Phase-I is now fully complete. We have 10 warships based there. Now, the detailed project report for Phase-II is in the final stages. After approval by the Cabinet Committee on Security, construction will begin next year,'' Navy chief Admiral Nirmal Verma told TOI. Navy will be able to berth 25 to 30 big warships at Karwar after Phase-II gets over by 2017, he added. The base will also house a wide variety of smaller ships, including 10 of the 80 fast-interceptor craft of Sagar Prahari Bal, the specialised force being raised for coastal security after the 26/11 terror attacks on Mumbai.  

Source - Times of India

INS Kadamba

INS Seabird

Project Seabird was a program to establish a new Naval Base, the INS Kadamba. This base would be India's first base exclusively for naval ships and the largest. Prior to its existence, naval ships shared space with commercial vessels at the two major ports in Mumbai and Visakhampatnam as well as smaller enclaves in Kochi, Goa and other small ports. A new Naval Base on the western coast was sanctioned in 1985 primarily on strategic consideration for completion by 1995 to provide additional infrastructure for the growing Naval Fleet. Karwar in Karnataka was chosen as the location of this base. The base would is under the jurisdiction of the Western Naval Command.
The Naval base was inaugurated by Defence Minister, Mr Pranab Mukherjee on 05 May 2005. The then Prime Minister Late Shri Rajiv Gandhi laid the foundation stone on 24 Oct 1986. The project was originally conceived by Admiral OS Dawson (Retd), PVSM, AVSM, ADC, who was Chief of Naval Staff from 28 Feb 82 to 30 Nov 84.
The West Coast was chosen for the location of the new base since the eastern base at Visakhapatnam, which could berth 50 ships, was considered adequate for India’s security needs in the east. Mumbai, on the west coast, was too congested due the substantial number of merchant vessels that docked there regularly, often forcing naval ships to wait a day before they could dock. Shallow waters along the channel in Mumbai prevent the berthing of aircraft carriers, which would have to lie in anchorage. Expansion of the Mumbai base was impossible and nearby buildings such as the Bombay Stock Exchange presented a security risk. Furthermore, Mumbai was a mere 580 nautical miles (900 kilometers) from Karachi whereas the Karwar base would be around 900 nautical miles (1,450 kilometers) from Karachi, thus being further away from potential attacks such as via missiles. The topography of the Karwar base was also considered valuable by the Navy. Features include sufficient and even water depth permitting easy berthing and navigation, hilly forested terrain to camouflage ground installations and the low occurrence of siltation.
The project was beset with abnormal delays. Despite revision of completion schedule from 1995 to 2005, the execution of marine works commenced after 14 years in 1999 raising doubts about the completion of the project even as per the revised schedule.
The cost of the project estimated at Rs 350 crore (Rs 3.5 billion) in 1985 increased to Rs 959 crore in 1990 on finalisation of detailed project report and further escalated to Rs 1294 crore in 1995, though the scope of the project was considerably reduced. The Ministry accepted consultancy services for supervision, contract management and quality assurance at higher rates than that quoted by foreign consultant in July 1990, resulting in extra expenditure of Rs 7 crore. Incomplete and inadequate studies by Central Water Power Research Station entrusted with site selection studies prolonged the studies for more than eight years. Tardy progress in implementation of approved rehabilitation package for the affected families despite budgetary allocations for this project led to its revision time and again and ultimately its financial impact increased by Rs 78.20 crore. Investment of Rs 2.64 crore on creation of assets, established to match the proposed commencement of marine works in June 1998 remained unproductive due to non-acquisition of land and conclusion of marine works contract.
The Ministry sanctioned in July 1986, acquisition of 6933 acres of State Government revenue and forest land and 5421 acres of private land at a cost of Rs 22 crore. But subsequent developments like (a) minimising human displacement (b) restriction on construction within 200 metres from high tide line, (c) planning of Konkan Railway line through the station and (d) reduced scope of the project necessitated reassessment of land to be acquired. Out of 8175 acres land decided to be finally acquired, 324 acres had not been acquired as of January 2000.
The INS Kadamba was commission on May 31, 2005. As of then, Project Seabird was being executed on 4480 hectares (11200 acres) of land, which was a mix of forest, revenue and private land. More than 4000 families living in 13 villages have been relocated to seven Rehabilitation Centers. Out of the acquired 3500 hectares of forest land, only 400 hectares have been used for construction. As per the existing policy, 800 hectares of compensatory afforestation has been done. In addition, about 900 hectares of afforestation has been carried out within the Naval area after taking over. Some sources have estimated the cost the total project cost at US$800 million.
Due to budget limitations, the Navy halved the original Phase I of Project Seabird. Phase II which will last from 2005 to 2010 will double most of the existing facilities. In addition, a naval air station will also be constructed where large ship-based helicopters will be stationed. The Navy ultimately plans to berth 50 vessels at Karwar.
Currently, the Navy plans to station the operating fleet of the Western Naval Command at Karwar while sending ships for repair and maintenance to Mumbai.
One of the unique feature of the base is the ship-lift and ship-transfer system for dry docking of the ship at the Naval Ship Repair Yard. The ship-lift is capable of lifting upto 10,000 tonnes and measures 175m x 28m. A ship-lift is a large elevator platform that can be lowered into water and lift a ship vertically to the yard-level so that the ship can be moved onto a dry repair berth on land. The ship-lift will be able to lift all other Indian Navy vessels except aircraft carriers and supply vessels. Currently there are 2 jetties available for ship-berthing. Ultimately, 11 piers will be available which will be able to accommodate 42 ships. Ships will be placed by end 2005 to enable the Western Naval Command with operational flexibilities.
Land Acquisition/Rehabilitation of Displaced Persons
The land required for execution of Project Seabird was approx. 4480 hectares, which was a mix of forest, revenue and private land. Over 4000 families living in 13 villages were required to be rehabilitated. The rehabilitation of the project affected families commenced in 1995 and this process went through various stages of negotiations, agitations, resistance, discussions and meetings with the involvement of local, state and national level political level leadership, including the High Court of Karnataka and National Human Rights Commission. Finally, at a meeting between the then Raksha Mantri and the CM of Karnataka in 1999, a comprehensive rehabilitation package was settled at a cost of Rs 126 crores as opposed to the original estimate of only Rs 9 crores. The actual work at site was to have been completed within 10 years (1995-2005), but could only commence in 2000 after the project affected families were rehabilitated in seven Rehabilitation Centers. The Project is being executed in a holistic manner with the involvement of all agencies. 
Non-payment of Compensation – Movable Assets of Govt Office Attached
The court personnel attached the movable assets found in the office of the special land acquisition officer of the Seabird Naval Base here, located in the office of the district deputy commissioner, on Monday March 8. The court had ordered for the attachment of the movable assets of the office, as per an execution petition filed by the persons aggrieved at the non-payment of compensation for their lands acquired for the naval base.
Land belonging to the late Vishnu Siddappa Naik, the late Datta Siddappa Naik, and their brother, Mohan Siddappa Naik, located in Chendia Aligadda village, had been acquired by the land acquisition officer in the year 1989.  The land owners, dissatisfied with the price offered for their lands, had approached the court for enhancement of compensation, which was granted by the civil court here. Thereafter, the government had filed a special leave petition in the High Court to approach the Supreme Court against the court order, which was declined. The appeal filed by the estate officer of the department of defence in the court against the court order, is yet to be admitted by the Supreme Court.
The court bailiffs took away chairs, tables, fans, Xerox machine, and cupboards found in the office. Employees of the office, who initially resisted the move, had to move out of the office as they could not function in the office that was being emptied. Advocate for the displaced persons, P S Bhat, said that the court took this step, as the land acquisition officer failed to pay compensation as per the court order, even after several requests were made to him on this issue.
Source -

Compensation, a mirage for Seabird land losers in Karwar - Deccan Herald
It is 24 years since the government acquired 2,500 acres of private land from people in Karwar and Ankola taluks to build ‘Seabird,’ the biggest naval base in Asia.
However, compensation has become a mirage for the people who lost their home and hearth for the naval base. The land acquisition process for the project costing Rs 25,000 crore began in 1986. But the compensation distribution has run into a controversy. As a result nearly 25,000 people of 8,000 families have become homeless.

These people had sacrificed their land to strengthen the defence system of the country. However, they are yet to be compensated. The Government had paid just Rs 150 per gunta. Those who lost the land went to the court saying that the sum was too meagre.

The Additional Civil court (Senior Division) directed the government to pay Rs 11,500 per gunta. According to the court order, Geethabai Dayanand Naik, who had given up her land, was given a compensation amount of Rs 4.90 lakh.  However, the Defence department appealed to the High Court against the lower court order stating that it was not possible for the government to give such a huge amount. The High Court upheld the order of the civil court. The Department has now filed a special leave petition in the Supreme Court. It will take a long time for the hearing to come up in the Supreme Court.

The majority of the families who have lost land either belong to the fisher community or are farmers. As the seashores are a part of the naval base project, the fishermen are worried about their future. The farmers rehabilitated in a barren land are not able to continue with their agriculture activities. 

Source -
More -
Despair of the displaced

The displaced families complain that the land in the rehabilitation centres is not fit for cultivation and that the government has not been able to provide them an alternative livelihood.
PROJECT SEABIRD has, by and large, overcome its initial setbacks, but many of the families that lost their land and/or livelihood as a result of the building of the naval base are yet to find their feet.
According to revenue records, 4,111 families, including 3,315 engaged in farming on less than one acre of own land and 856 of fisherfolk, living in 12 villages have been affected by the project. However, Prabhakar Rane, a former Karnataka Minister who is honorary president of the Seabird Naval Base and Konkan Railway Evacuees Forum, disputes the figure. He says there are more than 10,000 project-displaced families, comprising around 40,000 people.
The 11-year delay between the final land acquisition notification in 1989 and the actual shifting of people from the project site added to the problems associated with rehabilitation and resettlement (R&R). During this period of uncertainty, families expanded and land prices climbed. The displaced families were unhappy with the R&R package that the Karnataka government offered initially. In 1989, many of them approached the Karnataka High Court, which forbade the evacuation of people until "proper rehabilitation measures" were undertaken.
In August 1998, the Defence Ministry and the State government signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on a Rs.126-crore rehabilitation package, and the court allowed the project to proceed. Under the package, the head of every displaced family received Rs.50,000 and a house site in one of the newly created rehabilitation centres (RCs), while two adult sons and one unmarried daughter above the age of 35 got Rs.70,000. (The site was in addition to the compensation plus 30 per cent solatium and 12 per cent interest received for the extent of land lost.) Seven RCs were created - at Chittakula, Amadalli and Harwada for fishermen and at Todur, Hattikeri, Belekeri and Mudageri for agriculturists.
The displaced families want the R&R package to be extended to all sons and a maintenance allowance for the 12 years that they remained without their lands and jobs. The families are unhappy with the RCs, most of which do not have proper roads and a regular water supply system. Most important, the families want the State government to provide an alternative livelihood, which even government officials agree they have not been able to do. The few government-sponsored employment generation schemes (like carpentry, poultry and mushroom farming) have not found favour with the displaced people. They hope the government or the Navy will provide them with jobs as security guards, drivers or secretaries.
Said Nagubeechu Gowda, whose family lost land in NK Bail, Berede and Bavekeri villages and has now been rehabilitated at the Belekeri RC: "Earlier we cultivated paddy and even cash crops like coconut, groundnut and cashew, but here the land is not fertile, we cannot cultivate anything. There is no water either for drinking or for irrigation. Many of the wells have dried up." Added Sukri Gowda, a farmhand who has also been rehabilitated at the Belekeri RC: "There is hardly any agricultural activity close to the RC. We cannot even collect firewood because the Navy has taken over most of the forest areas."
Source - Frontline

Seabird officer issued notice

The additional civil court (senior grade) here has issued a showcause notice to the land acquisition officer of Seabird Naval Base project, asking him why he should not be arrested for not complying with the court order.
A case was filed about 10 years ago by one Janaki Teka Naik of Amadalli village, asking for more compensation for her land acquired by the naval base. But after her death when the court case was still in progress, her son Devidas Naik continued with the case. On February 7, 2008, the court ordered the land acquisition officer to deposit 25% of the amount of the additional compensation to be paid to Devidas.
As per the direction of the court, the officer presented a cheque of Rs 29,57,928 in the court on October 18, 2008. The cheque was sent to State Bank of India's Bangalore branch for realization. But due to the negligence of the bank staff, the cheque was not realized even after nine months, according to a written statement issued by Pradeep Naik, the advocate representing Devidas in the case. Repeated requests of Devidas and his family made to the land acquisition officer, bank officials and defence officials did not yield any results. Considering this as a serious offence, the court issued the showcause notice to the land acquisition officer.