HC: Let new minister consider formulating policy for naming airports as his first task

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Mumbai, Jul 9 (PTI) The Bombay High Court said on Friday that the Union government must come up with a uniform policy to name airports across the country and the new civil aviation minister should give top priority to this task.

A bench of Chief Justice Dipankar Datta and Justice GS Kulkarni, while hearing a PIL, said the new civil aviation minister (Jyotiraditya Scindia) must consider formulation of such a policy as his 'first task.' The bench said it could not allow instances such as the one from last month in Navi Mumbai, when around 25,000 people organised a rally in defiance of COVID-19 protocols to demand that the upcoming airport in the satellite city be named after a local leader who fought for the rights of Project Affected People.

On June 24, thousands of people from local agri and fishing communities along with some politicians staged a protest to press for their demand to name the international airport in Navi Mumbai after late activist and parliamentarian D B Patil.

Earlier last month, the Maharashtra government and state-run town planning agency CIDCO had announced to name the greenfield airport after Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray.

The HC noted that a draft policy had been formulated in 2016 to name airports after cities and not individuals. However, the current status of such policy was not known, it said.

'We would like to know the present position of draft policy? Over this issue of naming (of airports), we took the state government to task last month as there was a gathering violating COVID-19 protocols with nearly 25000 people. Why should we allow this?' the HC said to the Union government's counsel, Additional Solicitor General Anil Singh.

'If there is a new policy still in the draft stage, get it done now. You have a new set of ministers now. Let this be the work of the new aviation ministry. It should be the first task of the new aviation minister,' it said.

The bench was hearing a public interest litigation (PIL) filed by lawyer Filji Frederick seeking directions to the Centre to frame a uniform policy for naming and renaming of airports.

The petitioner sought directions to the Centre to not act upon proposals sent by state governments for naming airports, including the one coming up at Navi Mumbai, until a policy is framed.

The HC directed ASG Singh to take instructions on the issue and posted the PIL for further hearing on July 16. PTI AYA RSY RSY

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