MIAL open to options as slum resettlement gains priority

Written by Shaheen Mansuri | Mumbai, Dec 11 | Updated: Dec 12 2007, 07:37am hrs
Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), the consortium responsible for the modernisation of the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, is looking at all options for the speedy completion of kthe airport. Though MIAL has mandated the resettlement of over 80,000 families residing on the Airport Authority of Indias land to real estate major, Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited (HDIL), a non-governmental organisation SPARC (Society for the Promotion of Area Resource Centres) has stepped in and has identified around six privately-owned plots at Andheri, Jogeshwari, Kurla and Santacruz measuring around 70 acres each to relocate these families from 35 odd pockets around the airport on nearly 276 acres of land.

An official from MIAL says, Higher rung officials from HDIL met the Maharashtra chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh and the local MLAs on Monday to appraise them on the location which they have identified to relocate the families residing in the proximity of the airport.

These locations are within seven kilometres of the airport. And the modalities of the re-housing project are being worked out by HDIL. He further adds that if SPARC has suggestions and if it has also identified some locations, the representative of the NGO can approach HDIL to discuss the alternatives available.

However, Joaquin Arputham, advisor, SPARC says, Our organisation has already written to the chief ministers office about the land which we have identified but we are awaiting a reply from the ministers office. We do not doubt HDILs ability on the airport project but considering similar attempts previously undertaken by various agencies to survey the land, clearing the slums from the airport land has not been a smooth process, but now the mood is hopeful.

Adds an official from the Airports Authority of India, Relocating the slums from the airport land is critical because the proliferation of slums all along the security wall and very close to the runways and taxiways poses a security threat to the airport. Also, from taxiways to parking bays, everything critically required to increase the capacity of the airport depends on addressing the slum problem urgently.

Despite repeated attempts, HDIL officials were not available for comment on the status of the project to re-house the slum dwellers.