For speedy implementation of Airport specific slum rehabilitation scheme in Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), the state of Maharashtra Urban Development Department in its recently issued final notification has made it clear that those slum dwellers who are not joining this scheme will lose their rehabilitation rights.

The notification reads: "Any slum dweller not joining the scheme till the building permission to the slum rehabilitation scheme (SRS) is given, shall completely lose their right to any rehabilitation tenement, and their rehabilitation tenement shall be taken over by the MIAL/ Competent Authority and used for the purpose of accommodating pavement dwellers and other slum dwellers, which cannot be rehabilitated in-situ."

Following the proposed expansion plan of the existing Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport, the state urban development department approved the rehabilitation of slum-dwellers here. In fact, in 2014, the civil aviation minister, government of India had expressed great concern about the security threat posed by the existence of slums in close proximity of airport operations.

Therefore, it gave in-principle approval for in-situ rehabilitation of slums here and had asked state for the formulation and implementation of Airport specific slum rehabilitation scheme for all slum-dwellers.

Parag Alwani, the local legislator of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) praised government of India for prompting first rehabilitation scheme for airport slum dwellers. He said, "Allowing to use the central government land for rehabilitation of slum dwellers was a huge step as it never happened before. On 65 acres of land this rehabilitation will be carried out."

When asked about the non-protected slum dwellers would be offered ex-situ rehabilitation tenement as notified, Alwani strongly opposed. He explained, "the amended Maharashtra state slum act says even the unprotected slum dweller will be given in-situ rehabilitation and if at it is absolutely not possible then only they will be given houses outside. So not giving in-situ rehabilitation tenement to unprotected slum dwellers is contradictory to the Maharashtra Slum Act. State government should not make contradictory laws and 65 acres of central government land is big enough to rehabilitate everybody. If required they can ask for more land or otherwise it will create obstacles in the scheme unnecessarily."

Unlike other slum rehabilitation schemes the eligibility criteria/ cut-off date is of year 2000 while in airport specific slum rehabilitation scheme the eligibility criteria for proving their ownership is till year 2011. This modification was done to eliminate hurdles to the project in 2014 by the then CM Devendra Fadnavis. If year 2000 is considered to check the eligibility of hutments many be become invalid, Alwani asserted.

Meanwhile, the Airport specific slum rehabilitation scheme will be implemented by the MMRDA or SRA is unclear. Since the earlier rehabilitation scheme was with SRA.

The MMRDA is the special planning authority(SPA) for Mumbai's airport area comprising 802 hectares of land comprising different development plan. Airport Authority of India (AAI) is the owner of the land and Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) is the airport operator and given land on lease for 30 years. With the Adani Group taking control of the Mumbai airport from GVK Airport Developers Limited September 2019, AAI and Adani are the joint partners now.

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