NaMu Airport update

The Bombay high court has said that local residents cannot halt the Navi Mumbai international airport project and must decide their compensation scheme option by October 6. The HC order, significantly , paves the way for smooth and swift acquisition of over 670 hectares of land for the much delayed project. The land would be used for the core airport area. If there are no further impediments, the first phase of the airport can be expected to be completed by 2018.The entire project will be on 2,268 hectares. The majority of the land is already in possession of the City & Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), the implementing agency . The project will affect 3,500 families, for whom the state has set aside over 350 hectares for relocation and rehabilitation.
Disposing of a petition filed by locals seeking better compensation, an HC bench headed by Justice Anoop Mohta said, “There is no question of halting the project as it is in the interest of the public at large.“ V Radha, joint managing director, Cidco, was present in court during the hearing.
The HC order is crucial also because on October 14 the land acquisition scheme would begin to lapse, giving the project yet another jolt.
The petition, filed by 13 locals, sought improvements and transparency in the compensation package the state government offered in March.Their counsel, Sachin Shetye, said the challenge was not to land acquisition but to the “lack of fair opportunity for a fair compensation option“ under the land acquisition law enacted last year. It was a representative petition on behalf of nearly 500 families whose lands would go for the project, he said. It sought more time to decide options.
Maharashtra's advocate general, Darius Khambata, said that not only was the state's option “fair“, it was “amazing“. This is the first time such a compensation option is being offered for a public project in the country and is expected to serve as a model, said the authorities. As per the Right to Fair Compensation and Transparency in Land Acquisition, Rehabilitation and Resettlement Act, the state may give project-affected persons options apart from what the law lays down. Thus, for the airport project, the state has given affected locals the option to accept a compensation package thrice the value of what the Act provides.
“Our scheme is crystal clear. The residents can reject the state's scheme and opt for the process provided under the 2013 law, but this (the attempt to delay the project by filing the petition) can't go on. No one is forcing them to accept the scheme,“ said Khambata.

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