Many members of local communities along with some politicians gathered en masse to stage a protest against the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) in Navi Mumbai on Thursday, 24 June, demanding that the the upcoming international airport there be named after late socialist leader DB Patil.
Further, the protesters asked the corporation to nix its proposal to name the airport Shiv Sena founder Bal Thackeray.
They threatened to stop the airport construction work if their demand was not met and the airport was not named after Patil by 15 August.
A delegation of the protesters also later went to meet CIDCO’s managing director and submit their written demand.
Even though local leaders had earlier given a call to “gherao” the CIDCO Bhavan at CBD Belapur, the protesters were stopped a kilometre away from the building and the road was barricaded heavily.
An official informed PTI that more than 5,000 police personnel, 500 officers and Reserve Police Force units were deployed on roads leading to the CIDCO office.
Entry points of Mumbai were also sealed for hours. Roads coming from Pune, Uran and JNPT to Mumbai were blocked. Vehicles had to divert from Airoli route. Due to which common people were stuck in traffic jam for hours.
Former MP Ramsheth Thakur – who reportedly reiterated the protesters’ demand, Communist leader Dashrath Patil, Congress leader Hussain Dalwai, politician Sanjeev Naik, former MLA Jagannath Patil and MNS legislator Raju Patil also participated in the protest.
WHO WAS DB PATIL?
Patil was a five-time MLA from Panvel since the 1950s. He also went on to become an MLC and an MP.
Patil is credited with having led the fight for the rights of farmers and landowners in Navi Mumbai, Thane and Raigad districts from 1970 to 1980. On the issue of land acquisition, Patil also led a big public movement against CIDCO, that helped get the landowners the right compensation for their land.
BJP MLA from Panvel Prashant Thakur, on his part, said:
“From the beginning of the construction work of the airport, the name of BP Patil was recommended by the locals. But as soon as Shiv Sena came to power…the proposal to name Shiv Sena supremo Balasaheb Thackeray was submitted to CIDCO. Since then there has been an outrage among the local people. They may name any other project after Thackeray, but the airport will have to be named after Patil.”
In the cabinet meeting, held on Wednesday, a day before the agitation, it was approved to hand over the work of construction of Navi Mumbai airport to the Adani Group.
The ownership of Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL), which operates the airport, has now been given to Adani Airport Holding Limited. GVK Airport Developers held 50.5 per cent stake which has been bought by the Adani Group.
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