By November, 7,000 families of slumdwellers who have encroached on either side of the runway at international airport at Sahar will be shifted and rehabilitated.
This will come as a respite for the space crunched Sahar airport whose modernisation plans have been put on hold due to the encroachments.
Presently, a majority of the more than 1,960 acre airport land, which has been leased to Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) for 30 years, has been either encroached upon or under litigation with the government.
“This will be a good step for the development of the airport, which is the need of the hour,” said Naseem Khan, guardian minister, Mumbai suburban area.
After the first phase, in which 7,000 families will be shifted by November 1, 60,000 more families will have to be moved.
“I have told the authorities to survey the area, identify those eligible for rehabilitation and give them homes near the area,” Khan added.
The freeing up of land will help increase the airport’s capacity, expand the aeronautical infrastructure and allow MIAL to carry out its plans for commercial development around the airport.
An estimated 4 crore passengers are expected to use the airport by 2012. The encroachments have delayed the implementation of the development master plan that was submitted by the firm, which included generating more revenue through maximising non aero activities such as hotels, shopping malls, retail outlets, and even a convention centre.
Moreover, even the Rs 287 crore Sahar elevated road project, which is being implemented under the Mumbai Urban Infrastructure project, will take off after the squatters are moved. The six lane, two km long elevated road will allow passengers a faster ride from the airport to the Western Express Highway.
Earlier the MIAL had proposed to Airports Authority of India to transfer the latter’s 32 acre at Dahisar to relocate the slumdwelllers, but Khan had opposed it.
“I insisted they should be located within three to seven km radius of their present homes. They will be provided with all civic amenities,” he said.