It’s Residents vs CIDCO as Deadline For Navi Mumbai Airport Nears

3,000 families refuse to make way for Navi Mumbai I’ntl Airport till CIDCO meets their latest demands.

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What does it take to build an international airport? Land to start with. And 2,268 hectares of it if you’re building in Navi Mumbai. But City and Industrial Development Corporation’s (CIDCO’s) plans to acquire some of this land from residents of 10 villages seem to have hit a pothole.

Residents of Navi Mumbai’s Kombadbhuje, Ulwe, Ganeshpuri, Targhar and 6 other villages are refusing to vacate their homes till CIDCO meets their latest demands.

CIDCO had promised to shift our village from here and prepare the area where we are to be rehabilitated with amenities like schools, playgrounds, hospital and roads, but nothing has happened at the spot yet. How do we move there with our children and the elderly? There are no facilities there. We won’t shift there till we get all the facilities.
Madhuri Patil, resident
Ganesh Patil and his family refuse to shift to the new plot till a school is constructed by CIDCO.  
Ganesh Patil and his family refuse to shift to the new plot till a school is constructed by CIDCO.  
(Photo: The Quint)

So what has changed between 2011, when CIDCO struck a deal with the residents and now, seven years later? Back in 2011, CIDCO promised affected residents:-

  • A plot of land, three times the carpet area of their existing homes
  • Basic facilities including roads, electricity and water connections
  • Amenities like playgrounds, schools, hospitals and relocation of temples
  • Rs 1,000 per square feet for construction of houses
  • Rent during construction & relocation (up to 18 months)

However, residents are now demanding a few of these terms be changed.

When we struck a deal with CIDCO, cost of materials was much less. Today, how will we manage with construction costs in Rs 1,000 per sq feet? Steel, concrete, sand and bricks are so expensive. We will have to shell out additional Rs 20-25 lakhs from our own pockets. We want at least Rs 2,000 per sq feet construction cost.
Adiraj Patil, resident

Casting the rental scheme aside, residents are now agreeing to move from their homes only once their plots are prepared completely. Some are willing to move only if CIDCO finds rented accommodation for all 3,000 residents who are yet to move.

They are telling us that we will receive rent for 18 months, but we are not 10-20 families living here. Over 3,500 people live in 10 villages who will be affected. How will so many people find homes on rent close-by? CIDCO should make the necessary arrangements. 
Vijay Shirdhonkar, resident

In a bid to speed up the plot acquisition process, CIDCO had earlier announced a scheme offering an additional Rs 500 per sq feet for construction to those who vacate their homes before 31 March. But residents are now refusing to budge even if it means letting go of the extra cash as they hope to get a better deal.

While CIDCO acknowledges that only 500 out of 3,500 families have vacated their homes, they are hopeful that the matter can be resolved through talks.

As we consider their requests, simultaneously, we are also putting forward our requests to them. It will be a mutual decision through which they will get the maximum benefit out of this and we will get a clear land. 80 percent construction of social amenities is already over, everything will be ready after monsoon. We are also giving them 18 months’ rent to relocate their house during construction period. 
Mohan Ninawe, senior PRO, CIDCO

To find out if CIDCO’s construction of amenities on the relocation site was on track, we managed to access a few pictures from the construction site. Roads seem to be built around vacant plots and the school building too seems partially completed.

Roads and a partially built school building at the relocation site.
Roads and a partially built school building at the relocation site.
(Photo Courtesy: Vijay Shirdhonkar)

Meanwhile, work to develop the first runway and terminal building of the airport is already underway in the northern area of the project site.

CIDCO’s conflict with residents began earlier this month after it razed a temple on Ulwe Hill. Idols in the temple were then stashed away in a godown, leaving residents furious.

The latest conflict has caste a shadow in the Rs 16,700 crore project that is aiming to meet its December 2019 deadline.

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