Thackeray, Shivaji or Patil? Why Thousands Are Set to Protest Over Naming of Navi Mumbai Airport


The controversy over the naming of Navi Mumbai international airport (NMAI) has intensified as Project Affected People (PAP) has announced a protest to put pressure on the Maharashtra government to name the proposed airport after PAP’s leader late DB Patil. City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) board approved the name of the proposed NMIA after Late Bala Saheb Thackeray and sent the proposal to the state government for final approval.

The Under-construction airport in Navi Mumbai was supposed to be operational before the 2019 Assembly elections. Even though the work of the airport could not be completed despite several deadlines, a war of words intensified between political parties and PAP regarding its naming. Municipal elections are due in Navi Mumbai in a few months. Before that, this controversy has lead to a turmoil in the political corridors.

Demand of PAP

The PAP has announced a protest on June 24. The protestors are demanding that Navi Mumbai International Airport be named after late DB Patil who fought for the rights of Project Affected People. The citizens of Navi Mumbai, Panvel, Kalyan, Thane and Raigad are protesting to supports this demand.

The BJP, on the other hand, is backing the demand of the residents who want the new airport to be named after DB Patil—a local leader who stood up for the farmers and landowners in the 1970s and 1980s. They were opposing the government’s land acquisition in the name of development.

Who is DB Patil?

Navi Mumbai was set up in 1970 by CIDCO on farmer’s land. But DB Patil brought all the farmers together in their fields and gave them fair rates for their farmlands. Patil, who was associated with Shetkari Kamgar Paksha (PWP), was a five-time MLA from Panvel, a city in Navi Mumbai, since the 1950s. He was also an MP and MLC and in the 1970s and 1980s, who led farmers’ and landowners’ movements against CIDCO. So that they can be given proper compensation for the acquisition of their land for various government projects.

MNS for Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj

A large number of citizens from Agari and Koli communities in Navi Mumbai, Thane, Panvel, and Uran had participated in the agitation. As this airport is an extension of Mumbai Airport, it would be appropriate to name it after Chatrapati Shivaji Maharaj, said MNS president Raj Thackeray.

Online Petition for JRD Tata

Amid the existing row, another name has been suggested for the Greenfield airport. Piloo Tata, a member of the Tata family has suggested the name of 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.

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