Mumbai airport eyes slum land

Expansion will displace 85,000 families

By Rajil Menon
Published: Friday 15 January 2010

Over  2,000 slum-dwellers marched to the district collector’s office at Bandra on December 10, the international human rights day. They were protesting the proposed expansion of the Mumbai international airport that is likely to displace about 85,000 families living in surrounding slums. The protestors handed over a charter of demands to collector Vishwas Patil who agreed to forward the memorandum to the chief minister.

People from different localities, including Vile Parle, Andheri and Kurla, had joined the march.

“Airport modernization should not displace thousands of poors,” said Baban Kamble of Santacruz slum dwellers’ association. The government should provide each family with one 450 sq ft flat close to their existing homes and bear maintenance cost of the flats, he said.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji international airport is spread over 587 hectares (ha). The government proposes to acquire over 400 ha for expanding and modernizing the airport. Of this, 112 ha is occupied by slums. “We have been living here for decades. We do not want to be pushed to the city outskirts with no means of livelihood,” said Jaishree Ghadi, an activist.

The slum-dwellers are not happy with the compensation either. “The builder has offered us Rs 7 lakh. Where will I go with this money?” asked Chellamma Muthusami, 65, a resident of Gaondevi slum in Santa Cruz. She is a widow and lives in a shanty with three daughters, sons-in-law and four grandchildren.

Karunakaran Manikkam, a resident of Sanjay Gandhi Nagar in Vile Parle, said people who accepted compensations in the past had to return to their native villages when they ran out money.

The modernized Mumbai international airport aims to cater to 40 million passengers a year.

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