Hundreds of villagers protested at Belapur on Thursday
Hundreds of villagers protested at Belapur on Thursday

Navi Mumbai: At a time when cases of the Delta-plus variant of COVID-19 found in the state have caused serious concern, a crowd of over 10,000 people from Raigad, Thane and Palghar districts staged a protest in the CBD Belapur area on Thursday, demanding that the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) be named after the late DB Patil, a local leader by August 15.

On April 17, the CIDCO Board had approved the naming of the proposed NMIA after late Balasaheb Thackeray and sent the proposal to the State Government for final approval. On June 10, the proposal was approved by the state government.

The police had deployed more than 4,000 personnel, 500 officers and Reserve Police Force units on the roads leading to the CIDCO office to ensure the protest was carried out peacefully. The police said that more than 10,000 villagers assembled for the protest without permission. The cops plan to file cases against their representatives.

Representatives of the All-Party Action Committee (APAC) submitted a memorandum to Sanjay Mukherjee, managing director and vice-chairman of CIDCO to name the upcoming airport after the late DB Patil. He was a former MP and leader of project affected persons (PAPs), who had spearheaded several protests in the 1980s for villagers in Raigad and Palghar districts.

Ramseth Thakur, a senior member of APAC gave an ultimatum to the state government that if it did not decide on naming the upcoming airport after late DB Patil by August 15, it would have to face another protest. His son and Panvel MLA Prashant Thakur said that all the ongoing work at the airport would be stalled. “The administration did not allow us to go to CIDCO Bhawan., but we will go next time if the demand of the sons-of-the-soil is not met,” warned Thakur.

Shivraj Patil, deputy commissioner of Police of Zone 2 said that the police appealed to the protesters to drop their protest plan. However, they moved ahead with the protest and assembled near the NRI police station along Palm Beach Road in Belapur.

The protestors alleged that many of the villagers could not come for the protest due to traffic diversions and frisking by the police. DCP Patil said that they would prepare a report on the protest, including on the number of protesters and send it to the state government. He added that the NRI police will file cases against representatives of the APAC for undertaking the protest without permission. Communist leader Dashrath Patil, Congress' Hussain Dalwai, BJP MLA Prashant Thakur, BJP leader and former MP Sanjeev Naik, former MLA Jagannath Patil and MNS legislator Raju Patil also participated in the protest.

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