Friday, 12 September 2014

Airport Slum Rehabilitation

The Economic Times 11th September 2014 p8 has an article on the latest developments on the Mumbai airport. Those who know the NSDF and Mahila Milan in India will know that the airport slums federation is a member of the Mumbai slum dwellers federation and has been working since the 1990s to convince the national Airport Authority of India, the State Government of Maharashtra to address the issue of slums long before the redevelopment and privatisation of the airport began.

A decade before,  the federations presented to the NAAI and urban development department of Maharashtra with a powerful presentation of how a slum abutting the runaway was both dangerous to the residents as well cost huge additional fuel with planes having to queue and go around the slum. Over 1200 households were enumerated, the National Airport Authority purchased SRA built tenements from the govt of Maharashtra  and households moved.

After the airport was privatised, the open letter by Jockin Arputham requested the state to dialogue with the organised communities of slum dwellers. The federated leaders position was and continues to be that they are willing to give the airport all the land they need for infrastructure and they would build houses for the slum dwellers in the remaining space. For many years this position was not accepted. Government appointed developers to find land to relocate households but the residents have resisted this and government enumerators have not been allowed to do surveys in slums.

This announcement reflects a change of position, and one that is a way forward. Dialogue negotiations between the state and communities has to be the centre for developing solutions. The poor was reasonable solutions that work for them. They are always amendable to what works for the city and for them.

--- By Sheela Patel

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