Phase-II of Karwar naval base approved

The Cabinet Committee on Security (CCS) on Thursday cleared the Rs 13,000-crore expansion plan of the Karwar naval base in coastal Karnataka, which will eventually house two aircraft carriers, including INS Vikramaditya which has its origin in Russia.

The CCS approval for phase-II of Project Sea Bird comes days after the Navy chief stated that the service was preparing the case to get the Cabinet approval for the project in Karnataka.

“Inaugurated by then Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi in October 1986, work on phase-I of the project was completed after two decades at a cost of Rs 2,628.82 crore. In phase-I, berthing facilities for 11 ships and 10 yard crafts were created, along with an airstrip and a residential township. The initial cost estimate was Rs 350 crore.

In phase-II, berthing facility will be enhanced significantly, besides creating a dockyard and a full-fledged airbase. There will also be logistics and other support centres, a Navy officer said. After its completion, the Karwar base will house 30 warships.

On Monday, Defence Minister A K Antony informed Parliament that expansion of the Karwar Naval base was in line with India's strategic concerns and operational readiness.

The delay in approving phase-II of Project Sea Bird was due to unavailability of Indian companies which are eligible to undertake projects of such magnitude.

Also, the Finance Ministry had some objections to the initial cost estimate furnished by the Navy and Defence Ministry for the project.

CCS also cleared a proposal to raise the first battalion of the Sikkim Scouts for the Army.

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