350 project-hit people detained for protest against Navi Mumbai airport project – cities

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A large number of Project Affected Persons (PAPs) of Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) project marched to Cidco Bhavan on Tuesday with their long-standing demands for jobs and extension of rents.

Around 350 protestors who had planned a gherao at the Cidco building were forcefully stopped by the police and were detained at various police stations. Cidco authorities claimed that it has fulfilled all the commitments made by it.

Even as Cidco claimed that the airport project was on track with more than 90 per cent land having been acquired and the local villagers supporting the project, there have been protests over the years with PAPs of the 10 villages acquired, claiming that Cidco has not been fulfilling its promises.

The protest on Tuesday was the latest in the series and comprised large number of women PAPs who raised slogans against Cidco and demanded justice.

Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust (JNPT) trustee and leader of the PAPs, Bhushan Patil, said “Cidco has been taking all of us for a ride. It has not fulfilled several promises made. Today (Tuesday) the police prevented us from protesting. Protests are taking place all over the country. Why are we not being allowed our right?”

Speaking of the demands, Patil stated, “The PAPs want jobs for their children as they have lost their livelihood of agriculture, salt pans among others due to the land acquisition and the project. The house rent given for 18 months should also be extended till the project is completed and the PAPs are rehabilitated. Several PAPs are not getting the rent.”

Patil added that the Navi Mumbai NMIA committee under the banner of Akhil Bharatiya Kisan Sabha had protested for 38 days in December-January last for the demands and had been assured by Cidco that they would be met, but nothing was fulfilled.

Ashok Mhatre, a PAP, said, “The 12 Balutedar communities in the villages that have been acquired rendered various services in the villages and did not have land. Cidco should rehabilitate them as they have no other option left in the absence of the villages now. The farmers and the fisher folk have lost their livelihood. So, we all should be compensated well by Cidco. The construction package for the houses should also be increased as the costs have increased over the years.”

Krishna Patil, a woman protestor, claimed that Cidco made false claims. She said Cidco made tall claims in its relief and rehabilitation package but most of them are only on paper. She added, “We still have not been accommodated in the new areas that were being developed for us. We have been left in a lurch. We have lost our land and livelihood. We did not go to Cidco, but it came to us seeking our land.”

When contacted, Cidco public relations officer Priya Ratambe said, “There is nothing to add to what we have repeatedly stated. Cidco has fulfilled all the demands of the PAPs as per the instructions of the state government and its approved R&R package. We have not gone back on any commitment and, in fact, fulfilled all of them. We are now awaiting the construction of the terminal building of the project.”

Dinkar Mohite, senior inspector at CBD Belapur police station, said, “We have detained 350 persons as they had gathered without permission. After bringing them here at the police station, the persons have been sent to different police stations where they are currently detained. As of now, we have booked them for unlawful assembly and violation of orders under the Indian Penal Code.”

Officials said they have not decided yet if any of the protestors on Tuesday against Cidco would be placed under arrest.

(With inputs by Farhan Shaikh)

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