‘Name Navi Mumbai airport after PWP leader’

Project-affected people, local residents organise human chains to press for demand

Thousands of local residents and project-affected people formed human chains on Thursday to express their disappointment over a proposal to name the upcoming Navi Mumbai international airport after Shiv Sena founder late Bal Thackeray.

Around one lakh villagers held placards demanding that the airport be named after the late Peasants and Workers’ Party (PWP) leader and parliamentarian Dinkar Balu Patil, who was popularly known as D.B. Patil.

The human chains were spread across 130 km covering Uran, Ulwe, CBD Belapur, Panvel, Digha, Shilphata, Kalyan, Bhiwandi, Kalwa, Mira-Bhayander, Thane, Chunabhatti and Mankhurd.

“From 2012, when the airport project was announced, we had put up a board in the area saying ‘DB Patil International Airport’. All parties had agreed on the name then. Even the Shiv Sena was in support of it. Now, since they are in power, they have decided to name it after Balasaheb Thackeray. We respect Mr. Thackeray, but we want DB Patil’s name on it as it was due to his efforts that project-affected-people are drawing the benefits from government schemes,” Rajesh Patil, who coordinated the human chain in Navi Mumbai, said.

The All-Party Action Committee (APAC) that organised the human chain said that the State government should understand the emotions of the villagers and accept their demand. On April 17, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), which is the nodal government agency for the airport that is coming up near Panvel, approved a proposal to name the airport after Bal Thackeray. The proposal was then sent to the State government for final approval.

“Three days ago, the Chief Minister held a meeting in which he said that the airport will be named after Bal Thackeray and that we can suggest some other project to be named after D.B. Patil. It was the late PWP leader who had fought for the farmers and project-affected people and ensured that they receive 12.5% of the developed land from CIDCO. Apart from Navi Mumbai, Patil had also struggled for the cause of farmers in Thane and Palghar districts. If not this project, which other project would be apt to bear DB Patil’s name?” said project-affected person who participated in the human chain.

Protest on June 24

APAC now plans to hold another major protest against CIDCO’s decision on June 24, the death anniversary of D.B. Patil.

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