Massive protests over naming of Navi Mumbai airport

Massive protests over naming of Navi Mumbai airport

Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray has refrained from making any comments on the issue

Locals gather at Palm Beach Road near CBD Belapur as they protest against the naming of Navi Mumbai International Airport, in Navi Mumbai, Thursday, June 24, 2021. Credit: PTI Photo

The satellite township of Navi Mumbai and the adjoining Raigad district saw massive protests on Thursday over the issue of renaming the new upcoming international airport.

However, even as there were protests, Civil Aviation Minister Hardeep Singh Puri sought to lighten the mood with 'Santa-Banta' humour reacting to an old tweet by celebrity Suchitra Krishnamoorthi.

The locals are demanding that the Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA), being constructed in the Raigad district, be named after the late farmers’ leader D B Patil, who has worked for the Project Affected People (PAP).

The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) is the nodal agency for NMIA and it would be run by Adani Airport Holdings Ltd (AAHL), an entity of the Adani Group.

On Thursday, thousands of people came to the streets – amid tight security arrangements – to press for the demand of the locals.

Also read: Protests brewing up over naming of Navi Mumbai airport

People from Raigad, Thane and Palghar districts, under the All Party Action Committee, (APAC) along with local workers of BJP and AAP staged the protests.

The Board of Directors of CIDCO had already taken the decision to name the NMIA after Shiv Sena founder Balasaheb Thackeray which the Maha Vikas Aghadi government has in principle accepted.

Maharashtra Chief Minister and Shiv Sena president Uddhav Thackeray has refrained from making any comments on the issue. However, his close aide and Urban Development Minister Eknath Shinde said that the airport would be named after the late Shiv Sena supremo.

Besides, two other names have cropped up -- an online campaign is underway to name it after late J R D Tata, the father of civil aviation in India, while BJP MLA Nilay Naik has demanded it be named after late Vasantrao Naik -- the longest-serving chief minister of Maharashtra.

Singer-actor Suchitra Krishnamoorthi, in a tweet, said: “…Banta sent a letter to Civil Aviation Minister: Sir, it is my humble request that the new airport in Navi Mumbai should be named ‘Bantacruz’, since my brother has already one airport named after him ‘Santacruz’.

The Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport in Mumbai, in the grand old days, used to be referred to as Santacruz Airport because of its proximity to the locality and the suburban railway station.

However, Puri, a diplomat-turned-politician replied, “The Ministry of Civil Aviation receives many requests for naming and renaming of existing and under construction airports. To lighten the mood a bit, I want to inform my friend Banta that his formal proposal has not yet been received by us!”

Krishnamoorthi replied to the tweet saying “Haha. Stay well and witty sir. Love and respect always”.

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