As plans for the proposed airport in Navi Mumbai inch closer to take off, 40-year-old Mohan Gharat is getting a sinking feeling in his stomach, again.
Gharat is a resident of Owle village, one of the seven villages that will make way for the airport at Kalamboli in Navi Mumbai.
If the project is implemented and Ulwe River is diverted to accommodate the runway, people like Gharat will be displaced. This will be the second time for him. In 1990, the City Industrial and Development Corporation (Cidco) acquired his nine-acre plot in Jasai village, north of Panvel, for commercial purposes.
Gharat claimed that his family did not get all the benefits project-affected people (PAP) were promised by Cidco, the planning authority of Navi Mumbai, back then. “We only received the money,” the electrician said. “We were to get 12.5 per cent of our land in a nearby area but that never happened.”
Now that talks about relocating residents of seven villages and three hamlets to accommodate the airport have begun, Gharat said Cidco officials are promising a similar compensation package. “We are not against development, but we need to get the benefits after bearing the brunt of displacement,” said Jaideep Patil, sarpanch of Ulwe village, one of the seven affected villages. Patil, too, was displaced from his home once before. “However, with our past experiences we can’t believe Cidco anymore. We will not move.”
The Navi Mumbai airport project, which will affect 4000 families, is awaiting environmental clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. The Centre’s Experts’ Appraisal Committee visited the site last week to examine the Cidco’s revised plan for the airport.
Mohan Ninawe, Cidco’s spokesperson, said those displaced by the new airport will be given all the benefits meant for PAPs. This includes employment opportunities, training and land in exchange for the plot they give up.
Gharat had filed an application under the Right to Information (RTI) Act in response to which Cidco stated that PAPs will be given employment at the proposed airport. “The RTI response listed jobs such as commercial pilots, airhostess and ticketing all of which require training,” Gharat said. “Who will provide such training?”