The expansion plans of Mumbai international airport have come up against a hurdle, with residents from three Gaothans in the neighbourhood denying entry to officials who had come to survey the ‘encroached’ portion of the airport’s land.
Officials employed at the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) confirmed that due to opposition from the Gaothan residents, officials from Mumbai suburban collector’s office, responsible for carrying out the survey work, were finding it difficult to complete the task.
A spokesperson of the Mumbai International Airport Limited, which operates CSIA, confirmed locals had denied officials entry into the area they have occupied, earlier this month.
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The MIAL’s plan to leverage the land for commercial purposes as part of the airport’s expansion project is being strongly opposed by local residents, who are demanding in-situ rehabilitation. “My family has been residing here for decades. The officials want to drive us out. We are opposing the survey as it is being undertaken without any consultation with locals,” said Jude Gomes, a resident of Tank Pakhadi Gaothan in Sahar. “There is no clarity on our rehabilitation plan. When these remain undisclosed, why should we support the survey exercise?” he added.
Vishwas Merchande, another local, said, “Officials are not holding any dialogue with us. They just keep sending notices asking us to vacate the premises. The agenda is to get rid of us.”