Farmers threaten to stall airport construction work from Aug 16 if demand not met

| | Mumbai
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Farmers threaten to stall airport construction work from Aug 16 if demand not met

Friday, 25 June 2021 | TN RAGHUNATHA | Mumbai

Thousands of farmers on Thursday took out a morcha to the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) in Navi Mumbai, demanding the naming of Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) after their leader and  late MP D B Patil and threatened to stall the work at airport construction from August 16, if their demand was not met.

A day after the Maharashtra government approved a proposal to allow M/s Adani Airport Holdings Ltd (AAHL) to operate the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA), the supporters of late Patil staged a protest in front of the CIDCO headquarters against its decision to name NMIA after late Shiv Sena chief Bal Thackeray.

The supporters of later D B Patil, working under the aegis of Navi Mumbai International Airport Namakaran Kruti Samiti, demanded the annulment of the decision to name the NMIA after late Thackeray taken by the CIDCO at its Board meeting.

Acting on a directive by the Shiv Sena-led MVA government, the CIDCO had decided to name the NMIA after Thackeray. Subsequently, the State Government had earlier this month formally announced that the new airport would be named after the late Shiv Sena chief.

However, there have been protests by the supporters of late D B Patil against naming the NMIA after Thackeray. In the first week of June, Maharashtra chief minister Uddhav Thackeray had called a meeting of a delegation of the protesting farmers. However, the meeting failed, with the farmer-representatives refusing to budge from their stand. The farmers, who took out a morcha to the CIDCO, had earlier planned to gherao the CIDCO Bhavan at CBD Belapur. However, the police stopped the protesters one kilometre away from the CIDCO building.

Not wanting to take any chances, the local police had deployed more than 5,000 police personnel, 500 officers and Reserve Police Force units on roads leading to the CIDCO headquarters. As a fallout of the morcha taken out by the protesting farmers, vehicular traffic on various arterial roads, including the Palm Beach Road, had been diverted.

A delegation of the protesting farmers met the CIDCO’s Managing Director and submitted a memorandum, demanding the naming of the NMIA after late D B Patil.

Addressing the protesting farmers, farmer leader and former MP MP Ramsheth Thakur gave an ultimatum to the Maharashtra government and the CIDCO if the new airport was not named after late D B Patil by August 15, the protesting farmers would stall  the ongoing construction of the airport.

Meanwhile, it remains to be seen as to what bearing the Maharashtra government’s decision to allow M/s Adani Airport Holdings Ltd (AAHL) to operate the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) will have on the raging airort renaming controversy.

At its weekly meeting presided over by chief minister Uddhav Thackeray, the State Cabinet on Wednesday approved a change in ownership of the company from M/s GVK Airport Developers Developers Limited to M/s Adani Airport Holdings Ltd (AAHL) to develop and operate the upcoming Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) in the adjoining Thane-Raigad region.

At the meetin, the MVA Cabinet a go ahead to AAHL to be the new  concessionaire for the prestigious greenfield airport being developed as a public-private partnership (PPP) project.

Earlier, the airport was to be developed by GVK which was running the Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL).  However, the MIAL was taken over last year by AAHL and the same was approved by the Directorate of Civil Aviation, Airports Authority of India, SEBI, CCI and finally the CIDCO, which is overseeing the mega-project.  With the State Government's approval, the Gautam Adani-headed AAHL becomes the biggest private airport operator running several major airports like Mumbai, Navi Mumbai (proposed), Bengaluru, Ahmedabad and Lucknow, besides three more likely in the near future. A wholly-owned subsidiary of Adani Enterprises Ltd. (AEHL), the AAHL now has a majority stake in the new airport, with 26 percent belonging to the AAI.

Being developed on 1,160 hectares of land, Mumbai International Airport is expected to become operational in 2023-2024. When opened, it will become the country’s leading airport over the next decade for both domestic and international flights.  

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