Monday, February 26, 2018

'Slum rehabilitation survey at airports contradicts CM Devendra Fadnavis'

Mumbai: The Slum Rehabilitation Authority (SRA) is carrying out a biometric survey of the residents of a slum on Juhu airport for ex-situ (off-site) rehabilitation. The SRA sought permission to carry out the su-rvey in May 2016. In two letters to the SRA's CEO, the Airports Authority of India (AAI) consented to "a feasibility study on ex-situ rehab".
"AAI's stand contradicts chief minister Devendra Fadnavis's pre-election promise during the 2017 BMC poll campaign to grant in-situ (on-site) rehabilitation to slum-dwellers on airport land," said former Congress MP Gurudas Kamat, who has demanded that the state government reveal its rehabilitation plans.
AAI's stand has been consistent: "In view of issues impacting safe airport operations, in-situ rehab of slum-dwellers is not a viable option."
In response to Fadnavis's November 15 request for in-situ rehabilitation, S Suresh, member, finance, AAI board, in a letter to Arun Kumar, joint secretary, ministry of civil aviation, said, "Notwithstanding the mandatory aviation guidelines, and environmental hazards on account of dense habitation around the airport periphery, the land available sho-uld be used for increasing or improving aeronautical facilities... which per se can be achieved only by rehabilitation of slum-dwellers ex-situ."
The letter refers to the parliamentary standing committee on transport that has commented, "Habitation in the vicinity of an airport's operational area impacts safety and security. Hence, ex-situ rehab is the only way to overcome these concerns."
Last July, responding to a PIL, the AAI in an affidavit before the Bombay high court said it had never given an NOC to the SRA or any developer for rehabilitation or redevelopment of airport land, which is required for airport modernization. "The survey is being conducted for exploring the possibility of slum rehabilitation as per state government policy so that the government or local authority may rehabilitate/relocate hutments from airport land. Thereupon airport land is freed from hutments," reads the affidavit.
26/02/18 Clara Lewis/Times of India