Mumbai, Jan 11: Union Shipping Minister Nitin Gadkari on Thursday refused to allot land in posh South Mumbai for building houses for Navy officers, saying Navy is needed at the borders. Gadkari said “not an inch” of land would be given to Navy to build flats or quarters in South Mumbai. The minister made the remarks at a public event in presence of Western Naval Command chief Vice Admiral Girish Luthra.Also Read - Viral Video: Ratan Tata Arrives at Mumbai's Taj Hotel in Nano Without Security. Watch

“Actually, Navy is needed at the borders from where terrorists sneak in. Why does everyone (in the Navy) want to stay in South Mumbai? They (Navy) had come to me, asking for a plot (of land). I will not give even an inch of land. Please don’t come to me again,” Nitin Gadkari said. The minister’s public displeasure comes in the backdrop of the Navy declining permission for building a floating jetty at Malabar Hill in south Mumbai, where a floating hotel and seaplane service are planned. Also Read - Western Railway Celebrates Golden Jubilee of Mumbai-Delhi Rajdhani Express

“Everyone wants to build quarters and flats on south Mumbai’s prime land. We do respect you (Navy), but you should go to the Pakistan border and do patrolling,” Gadkari said, adding that some senior officials can stay in Mumbai. The minister further said land on the eastern seafront being jointly developed by the state-run Mumbai Port Trust and the Maharashtra government, would be utilised only for the benefit of local citizens. Also Read - From Mumbai to California: Sarita Mali, Who Once Sold Flowers Gets Admission in US University For PhD

South Mumbai is home to a sizeable presence of the Navy and houses the headquarters of the Western Naval Command, as well as the naval residential quarters at Navy Nagar in Colaba in south Mumbai. Berths for naval ships are close to the Port Trust assets used by merchant ships. Over time, a lot of cargo handling has moved out of the Mumbai Port, one of the oldest ports in the country.

“I heard that you (Navy) gave a stay to the floating jetty plan at Malabar Hill, despite it getting the high court’s nod,” Gadkari said. Claiming that stopping such developmental work has become a habit, Gadkari wondered what has the Navy got to do with the Malabar Hill area which is primarily a private residential zone also having official residences of Maharashtra governor and chief minister.

“Where is the Navy at Malabar Hill? There is no Navy at Malabar Hill and the Navy has nothing to do in the area,” Gadkari said and invited the Navy for talks to resolve the issue. Gadkari said he chairs a committee for stalled infrastructure projects, adding that projects are cleared “as soon as they come on the agenda”. “We are the government. The Navy and the Defence Ministry are not the government,” Gadkari said.

(With PTI inputs)