Mumbai: Rise in passenger footfall on CSMIA after 2nd wave of COVID
Mumbai: Rise in passenger footfall on CSMIA after 2nd wave of COVID
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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 the 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, UDD approved the rehabilitation of slum dwellers here. In fact, in 2014, the civil aviation minister had expressed great concern about the security threat posed by the existence of slums in close proximity to airport operations. Therefore, it gave in-principle approval for in-situ rehabilitation of slums here and had asked the state to formulate and implement airport specific slum rehabilitation scheme for all slum dwellers.

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

When asked whether 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 unprotected slum dwellers will be given in-situ rehabilitation. If 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. Otherwise, it will create obstacles in the scheme unnecessarily."

In the airport specific slum rehabilitation scheme, the eligibility criteria to prove ownership is till year 2011. This modification was done to eliminate hurdles to the project in 2014 by then Chief Minister Devendra Fadnavis. If 2000 is considered to check the eligibility of hutments, many may become invalid, Alwani asserted.

Meanwhile, whether the airport specific slum rehabilitation scheme will be implemented by the MMRDA or SRA is unclear.

The MMRDA is the special planning authority (SPA) for Mumbai's airport area comprising 802 hectares of land comprising different development plans. Airport Authority of India (AAI) is the owner of the land and Mumbai International Airport Limited (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 in September 2019, AAI and Adani are joint partners now.

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