NAVI MUMBAI: In a protest against the high-intensity blasts at the construction site of the Navi Mumbai International Airport, over 350 people formed a 900-meter-long silent human chain on Sunday morning.
The protestors, who stretched from one end of the joggers’ track at Sector-15, CBD-Belapur, held up banners asking the Navi Mumbai International Airport Ltd (NMIAL) to reduce the intensity of the blasts. They also demanded a structural audit ordered by either NMIAL or the government of their buildings, which have developed cracks and shattered windowpanes on account of the blasts.
“We met the chief minister last week and he responded to our complaints and asked the state aviation and urban development departments to intervene,” said B N Kumar, director of the NatConnect Foundation, the NGO that organised the protest. “We now expect the government to order a structural audit of the affected buildings.”
Rohit Agarwal of Arenja Cooperative Housing Society, Sector 11, CBD Belapur, while stressing that residents had nothing against the airport, said that the blasting of the rocky hills was also causing a lot of dust pollution in the area. General physician Dr B B Gajare, who practises at Sector 15 of CBD Belapur, corroborated the statement, saying the number of people coming to him with respiratory problems had spiralled.
The cracks in buildings are worrying citizens a lot. Dr Gajare and Suryakant Pandey, residents of Sai Vihar, told HT that their buildings had developed deep fissures in the pillars and walls, which were caused by the airport site blasts. Realtor Israel Shaikh showed pictures of his shattered windowpanes.
Kumar said that CIDCO was primarily responsible for taking action and could not wash its hands of its responsibility, as the planner was building the airport project through Adani Airports Limited. “It is the duty of CIDCO officials in charge of the project to ensure that the contractors meet all environmental clearance norms,” he said.
When questioned, R B Dhayatkar, the chief engineer of CIDCO, the government agency overseeing the NMIA project, admitted that some of the societies were close to the northern boundary of the airport site. “I will ask NMIAL to look into the issue and take action,” he said.
The silent protest drew a massive response, not only from the creek-facing housing societies but also from NRI colony Seawoods and Parsik Hill. “We have done a headcount of the participants and collected signatures,” said C D Gupta of Belle Vista society. “We will plan the next step soon.”
When asked for their response, CIDCO and NMIA refused to comment.