In what is seen as a bid to entrench its presence beyond Bay of Bengal into the East Asian waters and the Pacific Rim, Indian Navy is all geared to get an exclusive sea port for its Eastern-bound frigates and warships.
Ramkonda, a quite hamlet on the Coromandel coast some 50 kms east of Vishakapatnam, was chosen for building the new marine base.
The work on the Project Varsha began in 2005, and when completed, it is expected to be a gem of the Indian Navy.
Seen by many as another step in fulfilling the ambitions of India’s ‘Look East policy, Project Varsha is expected to be the largest such base in the country once it is completed.
Experts claim that Ramkonda’s proximity to Vishakapatnam, which is the headquarters of Eastern Naval Command and Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC) is what prompted Indian Navy to build a base there.
The base, envisaged for the exclusive use of the Navy, is also expected to ease off traffic from the Vishakapatnam harbor.
With an expanding warships’ fleet which has already touched 46 and will soon see induction of nuclear powered submarine INS Arihant, the strength of Eastern Naval command is now on par with India’s western Naval command.
And with Admiral Joshi’s aggressive rhetoric hinting that India would co-operate with Vietnam in competing with China for natural resources in the South China sea and beyond, a prominent naval base in East was long overdue.
Interestingly, Project Varsha is being built on the same line of motives as Project Seabird. While Seabird, located on the coast of Karnataka, was built to have an eye on Pakistan, Varsha is seen by many as manifestation of India’s ambitions in South China Sea and counteracting the growing Chinese might in the region.
But Project Varsha is not the only war base in the strategic Bay of Bengal. A naval air station is all set to be built off Kolkata’s coast, with another envisioned for the Tamil Nadu’s coast. The latter is expected to secure the Indian interests on both, the eastern and western flanks.
Besides, India also boasts of an air surveillance station in the Andaman and Nicobar islands. It had been built to monitor the activity of air and sea-borne traffic in and around the region.