INDIA. Mumbai: While CIDCO has already passed a resolution to name the upcoming international airport in Navi Mumbai, after Shiv Sena Supremo late Balasaheb Thackeray, the discontent is brewing among project affected people (PAP), who have demanded that the airport be named after the PWP leader late D B Patil, as a tribute to his pioneering work in leading farmers’ and landowners’ movements against the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra.
Navi Mumbai International Airport is a proposed green field airport project located in Mumbai’s Kopra-Panvel area. Navi Mumbai will be Mumbai’s second airport. Upon its completion, Mumbai will be the first city in India to have more than one airport. The airport is being built through a public-private partnership between the Airports Authority of India (AAI) and the Government of Maharashtra, together with Mumbai International Airports Ltd (MIAL). Now the Adani Group has acquired a 23.5 per cent stake held by two foreign firms ACSA Global Limited and Bid Services Division (Mauritius) Limited (Bidvest) for Rs.1,685.2 crore. In totality, it has acquired 74 per cent stake in Mumbai International Airport, including the entire 50.5 per cent stake held earlier by GVK Group. The Maharashtra Government has okayed Adani taking over Navi Mumbai airport.
On Friday, thousands of people including PAPs and political party workers staged a peaceful protest on Palm Beach Road near Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation (NMMC) headquarters, to demand the naming of the airport after Dinkar Balu Patil (DB Patil). The DB Patil Navi Mumbai International Airport All-Party Action Committee also warned that it will stop all airport work if the state fails to accept their demand to name the airport after D B Patil, by August 15.
Initially, they had planned to gherao the CIDCO headquarters. However amid fears of a clash between the police and protesters, since they had no permission for public meeting, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, they staged a silent protest.
Protestors came not just from Navi Mumbai, Panvel, and Uran, but also from Mumbai and other parts of the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR). They carried placards, wore clothes with Patil’s pictures, and raised slogans praising him. There were also many political leaders cutting across party lines, including Maharashtra Navnirman Sena (MNS) MLA Raju Patil and Congress leader Hussain Dalwai.
Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leader and Panvel MLA Prashant Patil, who has been spearheading the agitation, said, “There was not a single political party flag visible today, proving that this is a movement of the people from all spheres. Sons of the soil have come from all over. The chief minister has got a very strong message today of what the people want.”
Congress leader Hussain Dalwai said, “I have worked with DB Patil in the OBC movement in which he was my leader. He got justice for the sons of the soil and was an inspiration for the struggle of the people. DB Patil deserves the demand being made for him. He worked selflessly only for the people.”
Dinkar Balu Patil (13 January 1926 – 24 June 2012), also known as D B Patil, was born in Jasai village, Uran, and associated with the Peasants and Workers Party (PWP). He represented Panvel in the state Assembly for five terms between 1957 and 1980. He also represented the then Kolaba constituency as an MP in 1977 and 1984. He was also a member of the state legislative council in 1992. He led farmers’ and landowners’ movements against CIDCO to ensure them proper compensation for the acquisition of their land for various government projects.
MNS chief Raj Thackeray has suggested that since Navi Mumbai International airport is an extension of the existing Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, the forthcoming airport in Navi Mumbai airport be named after the great Maratha warrior.
Online Petition for JRD Tata
Amid the existing row, Piloo Tata, a member of the Tata family has suggested that the airport be named after, JRD Tata, who is fondly known as the Father of Indian Aviation. Piloo Tata has started an online petition and thousands of people supported it. In the meanwhile, the issue is expected to reverberate in the ensuing two day monsoon session of the Maharashtra state legislature commencing on July 05.