Residents protest as Adani Group demolishes Mumbai’s Air India colony

Demolition of the uninhabited buildings began today to make way for Mumbai airport’s expansion plans; MIAL prepares to take on occupied buildings with the necessary permits

January 24, 2024 08:09 pm | Updated 09:07 pm IST - Mumbai

Google Maps image locates Air India Colony in Mumbai’s Kolivery village, Santacruz.

Google Maps image locates Air India Colony in Mumbai’s Kolivery village, Santacruz.

Billionaire Gautam Adani-led Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) started the demolition of 20 uninhabited, dilapidated structures at the Air India Colony located in Mumbai’s Kolivery village, Santacruz.

In March 2022, approximately a month after Air India was handed over to Tata Sons, MIAL issued a notice to the airlines asking it to surrender land that is not core to its operations, including four staff colonies. These colonies were home to 1,600 families.

According to the MIAL spokesperson, the demolition was conducted “in strict adherence to the law and accordance with the permission/handover granted by AIAHL, the PSU asset holding company of erstwhile Air India”.

The exercise was part of MIAL’s comprehensive redevelopment plan of the airport land, they said.

“At present, no demolition steps have been undertaken for the remaining 80-odd buildings within the colony, which are currently occupied. Due process of law by filing eviction applications under the AAI Act is being followed for the same,” the spokesperson said.

“Considering Mumbai Airport is a land-constrained aviation asset, this redevelopment initiative is a crucial step in the airport’s ongoing efforts to contribute to the expansion and improvement of existing passenger facilities, thus fostering the growth and progress of Mumbai,” they added.

However, the move was opposed by the residents of the colony, who entered into a heated argument with the teams. They tried to prevent the earthmover vehicles from carrying out the demolition works.

Meanwhile, former general secretary of All India Cabin Crew Association, Sanjay Lazar, said that a bus full of police personnel and demolition teams began the works as protesting residents clung to the buildings to prevent it. Photos and videos of the incident went viral on social media.

“It’s a moment of heartbreak for those of us who visited the Air India and Indian Airlines colonies as kids 50 years ago. I remember playing there with some of my best friends and even stayed there briefly 2 years ago. The end of an era in Kalina as new Adani BKC city with spanking new malls hotels and offices will spring up there in 225 acres of land,” he posted on X.

Later, he said the demolitions were stopped after residents presented the Supreme Court order, which protects them from coercive action until the next hearing on February 13.

“The High Court had said to proceed under PP norms; the Supreme Court has said no action until the next hearing. The police and Adani have promised to come back with permissions,” Mr. Lazar said.

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