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Mumbai airport offers deal to squatters

BS Reporter  |  New Delhi 

Mumbai International Airport Pvt Ltd (MIAL) has promised "golden handshake" for the estimated 60,000 families living in the slums around the airport, who will be displaced for the airport's expansion.
The promise was made before a Supreme Court Bench headed by Chief Justice KG Balakrishnan.
The company had appealed to the Supreme Court against an order of the Bombay High Court which fixed 1995 as the cut-off year for the rehabilitation of the displaced.
The Maharashtra government had earlier changed the year from 1995 to 2000. The Supreme Court today set 2000 as the cut-off year. The Rs 52-billion project will double the airport's capacity by 2014.
Senior counsel for the company, Harish Salve, told the court that there would be a problem in identifying the people who had settled before the cut-off year.
However, if the uncertainty about the cut-off date was cleared, the company would rehabilitate the project-affected, he added. They would get money, houses, shops and other benefits, he said.
Salve said the existence of a large slum near the runway was a security risk and it was not possible to build new runways without removing the hutments. As the airport was suffering from congestion, it was absolutely essential to remove the slum cluster, he said.
The petition, first filed by Janhit Manch, alleged that though the World Bank had laid a condition that the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) shift the project-affected within two-three kilometres of their present homes, the authorities had not been willing to make such a commitment.
Most of the slum-dwellers work at the airport and fear loss of jobs if they are shifted far. The Manch alleged that the state government provided ample land for big developers but none for the poorer sections of the society.

First Published: Tue, May 08 2007. 00:00 IST