Houses, most with a second floor, rise above the concertina mesh on the depot’s boundary wall Surrounded by unauthorised buildings, security of 54 Air Stores Park, Air Force Station Ammunition Depot on Old Delhi-Gurgaon Road, could be a major concern for the authorities.
Though no construction is allowed in a 900 meter radius around the IAF ammunition depot, houses — most of them with a second floor — rise above the concertina mesh on the depot’s boundary wall. Though crucial for the IAF because of its strategic location near Delhi, the political patronage and a mix of civic indifference and collusion has allowed houses to be built deep inside the restricted zone of the depot.
In order to ensure implementation of the Punjab and Haryana High Court orders to curb unauthorised construction in the restricted zone, the district administration has held several coordination meetings with the Station Commander and other Air Force officers, but little has changed on the ground.
Police have set up several check points on roads leading to the restricted zone to stop constructed material from entering, but illegal construction is going on with the collusion of the Municipal Corporation of Gurgaon (MCG) and police officials. Though the district administration has said that vehicles caught carrying construction material into the restricted zone will be impounded and the driver, mason, labourers and owner of the under-construction house will be booked and arrested, little action has been taken on the ground.
Several demolition drives have also been carried out by the MCG but it has failed to curb the menace.
Experts said that the issue needed to be taken up on priority and the arsenal must be protected to ensure that it was not an easy target.
“We have conducted a security audit of the IAF air bases across the country following the Pathankot attack and have taken remedial measures, specific to each base. There are more than 950 such IAF station across India. We have also reviewed the security of the IAF ammunition depot at Gurgaon,” said IAF Public Relations Officer Rochelle D Souza.
The Punjab and Haryana high court is hearing a case on redefining the restricted zone, with a proposal to reduce it to 300 metres. An early resolution to the problem is key to preparing the defences of the depot. The government will, however, have to quickly formulate a plan to rehabilitate those who lose their houses.