Worried about being displaced by the Navi Mumbai airport, 2,000 people from 18 villages came together on Sunday to share their apprehensions and discuss the course of action.
Project-affected people (PAPs) have formed a committee named the Navi Mumbai International Airport Project Affected People's Committee.
The committee organised a public meeting at a school in Dapoli village, Panvel, on Sunday, where people from Targhar, Pargaon, Ulwe, Kolhi, Kopar, Ganesh Puri, Chinchpada, Dungi and Manghar villages participated in the meeting.
The Centre gave the Navi Mumbai airport, stuck due to environmental concerns, a nod in November.
Members of Legislative Assembly (MLA), Prashant Thakur from Panvel and Vivek Patil from Uran, and Raigad district Congress president RC Gharat were also present at the meeting, where issues such as unnecessary acquisition of land, and rehabilitation and employment of PAPs were discussed.
Gharat, who is also the spokesperson of the committee, said: “We are not against development. We understand the need for a new airport. However, the interest of the native people, who are going to be displaced and are losing their land, has to be kept in mind.”
Gharat said the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), the development authority for Navi Mumbai, returned 12.5% of the land it took over to the owners, while developing various areas of Navi Mumbai.
“We demand the same this time too, so that the poor villagers have something of their own,” Gharat said. “The government should share the profit [from the airport project] with the people, who will be displaced.”
Patil agreed: “The people of the area will have to make sacrifices for the benefit of the entire nation and hence their interest should be the government's priority,” he said.
“The project-affected people should be provided jobs and other facilities to cater to their needs.”
Thakur said several government projects such as the Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust, the Oil and Natural Gas Corporation and the special economic zone have taken up land in the area, but there has been no development of the local people. “Since Cidco is handling the matter, we are approaching them with our issues,” Thakur said. “If we don't get a proper response, we will think of approaching the central government at a later stage.”