It’s difficult to visualize what MIRC looked like over 30 years ago. There were over 1200 acres of waste-land, old disused, dilapidated and run-down buildings – mostly small toilets, cook¬houses and old stud farm paddocks. The layout blue-print showed the area covered with buildings (not to scale representation), and to the eyes in Delhi they appeared adequate for raising a regimental centre. So the MIRC came into being on 02 April 1979.
Mike Menon refused to occupy the only house, and that was converted into Balniketan later in the year (Now Sarath Army Pre School). Tents were pitched for all personnel posted to the new Centre. For the first few years the inhabitants had to contend with scorpions and snakes. All told, the life was primitive, hectic, challenging, nevertheless interesting. Right from pitching tents for all, including the first batch of recruits who were expected to arrive in December. The task involved clearing the wilderness on some 800 acres of land, digging trenches, shallow and deep, for electrification of tented accommodation, for water pipelines and sanitation. All this was done by 180 all ranks including officers and JCOs, most of them did three duties in a single day- no holidays or leave. All regimental institutions had to be formed, standing orders had to be written, accounts books had to be made. The list of ‘Things to Do’ was endless. What was threatening the continued existence of the Centre was poor water supply.
If KLP Board Proceedings did not reach the Army Headquarters, there would be no new buildings no roads and other infrastructure, essential for living. On one hand Command HQ was blaming us for the delay, and on the other, the chain of command and their advisors were showing easy way out by opting for Tent Replacement Huts. Very convincing arguments were presented for TRHs. I must disclose that going in for permanent buildings and not accepting the bait of TRH was a ‘democratic’ decision by us. We didn’t mind roughing it out for a couple of years. Argument that we would augment the water supply by reactivating the existing wells and boring new ones carried the day with the Station Commander, who recommended and forwarded the Board Proceedings with a caveat. The ball was in our court: how and where to find water?
While looking for sources of water I came to know that pipeline from nearby Mula dam supplies water to the Industrial Estate, about 8-10 km from the MIRC as the crow flies. I saw the light at end of the tunnel! The state Irrigation Department authorities told me that they have enough water at the head but if the Defence Authorities were to lay the pipeline from water-head they could supply the required water. The Station Commander rejected our proposal to get this water. He was depending on augmenting the station water supply from the city supply, the project which was expected to be completed in next five years or so. Strange choice this was. In preference to getting water in a year or so, we were depending on the project that was on paper.
I got a chance to prove my point the next year. As Officiating Commandant I was presenting our projections for the future Peace Establishment of the MIRC to the Army Commander in the presence of his PSOs. The presentation started with all the charts and slides. As soon as the Army Commander saw the projected population figures of the MIRC, he stopped me from going any further, and reminded me of the availability of water. Discussion now was on availability of water, and the Army commander said ‘No water, No PE’. My saying that Mula water- head had enough water and we have to pipe it to the MIRC, was shot down by the Command and Pune Zone engineers. At this point the Army
Commander stopped the presentation and gave me one week in which to get the undertaking in writing from the State Government, and then continue, or take back our projections if the water could not be found. The next day I was able to obtain on my verbal request a provisional undertaking from the State Irrigation Department in Mumbai that three lakh gallons of additional water would be made available to the local defence establishment until 2020, provided that the latter lay pipeline to the water-head in the Industrial Estate. I was elated. The next week the presentation was allowed to be continued to the embarrassment of the engineers. I had won the day.
Col A Gore was the First Deputy Commandant of MIRC. Article was published in Sarath Magazine August 2011)