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AAI for same-site rehab of slum dwellers on airport land

By Aneesh Phadnis
September 15, 2014 12:41 IST
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Mumbai AirportThe Airports Authority of India, which owns Mumbai Airport land, has given an 'in -principle' approval to the Maharashtra government’s proposal to rehabilitate 90,000 slum dwellers living on airport land, on the same site

The state government's notification, which was issued last week, quoted the civil aviation ministry's letter urging quick rehabilitation of slums due to security threat.

However, the notification has raised eyebrows since it was issued barely a few days before announcement of Assembly elections.

The GVK run Mumbai International Airport Limited, which is the airport operator, refused comment on the issue but AAI gave approval to in-situ (same site) development and requested the state government to formulate a scheme for the purpose.

The state government also proposed to enhance the permissible floor space index for hotels and convention centres on airport-owned land, increasing construction potential on unencumbered land portions.

Until now, all slum development plans were focussed on clearance from the existing location and resettlement on private land in other parts of Mumbai.

But the plans remained grounded due to controversies, protests and litigation.

Mumbai airport land is spread over 1,981 acres. 

Runways, terminal buildings, aircraft hangars, etc, account for about 1,169 acres, or about 58

per cent of the land.

About 308 acres (15.58 per cent) of the land is encroached, while about seven per cent is vacant or undeveloped.

Last year, the state government had approved an interim development plan for the airport prepared by the Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority or MMRDA.

The plan outlined the road map for proposed aeronautical and non-aeronautical use, as well as infrastructure development.

However, the plan excluded about 204 acres of slum areas from planning and development and it was hoped to take up development on this land after rehabilitation of slums.

In October 2007, MIAL signed a slum rehabilitation contract with Housing Development and Infrastructure Limited.

Under the scheme, shanties on 267 acres were proposed to be shifted to other parts earning HDIL transfer of development rights, which is incentive FSI and can be sold in the open market.

The project was to be implemented by 2011.

HDIL had constructed about 20,000 tenements in the Kurla and Bhandup areas and earned the TDR but  slum dwellers residing on airport-owned land couldn't be shifted since the government did not identify residents who would be eligible for rehabilitation.

In February 2013, MIAL terminated its contract with HDIL, alleging breaches of various contract conditions.

HDIL moved the Bombay High Court but it rejected the developer's plea. The contract dispute is under arbitration now.

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Aneesh Phadnis in Mumbai
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