Approximately 3,500 families residing in 10 villages are being displaced a new airport in Navi Mumbai . They have sustained a long-term struggle for fair rehabilitation . A perfunctory one-hour public hearing held on 5th May 2010 was boycotted by residents of all the affected villages. An Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was not made public and people from the affected villages stood outside waving black flags in protest, demanding due compensation . Pre-construction work on the airport site began in October 2017, even though villagers had not relocated to the resettlement areas. Many are dissatisfied with the rehabilitation and resettlement areas and say that the offers of land and cash sums to build new houses in the designated areas are insufficient to compensate for what they will lose .
A major protest by residents of six villages on 12th October 2017 brought pre-construction work on the airport site to a halt . Families still living on the site resolved to remain in their homes until the plots of land allocated for resettlement were developed . On 27th October it was announced that work on the Navi Mumbai Airport site would resume under heavy police protection .
The state protected the airport from people with legitimate grievances, but failed to protect people from construction of the airport. Blasting work caused residents to complain about tremors affecting their houses and has caused injuries . Explosives were being set off three times per day, loosening the ground in order to cut and level Ulwe hill to make way for the airport runway. Blasting as little as 100 metres from people’s homes sent stones flying distances of up to 200 metres, including into a nearby school .
City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), the city planning agency responsible for implementing the airport project, claimed that the plots for displaced families were ready, but project affected persons (PAP) representatives disputed this, saying that schools, utilities, streetlights, roads and a crematorium had yet to be developed and nothing had been done to make provision for replacing temples that will be lost to the airport . In November 2017 some PAPs alleged that records proving their land ownership had been destroyed by CIDCO . In November 2017, two thousand residents of the villages of Targhar, Pargaon, Ulwe, Kolhi, Kopar, Ganesh Puri, Chinchpada, Dungi and Manghar gathered to step up their demands for fair compensation and rehabilitation from CIDCO. The villagers united their struggles to form a new organization: Navi Mumbai International Airport Affected Peoples, which will take up their demands with CIDCO .
On 6th January 2018 five engineers working in the site were injured, two of them severely, hit by falling rocks during supposedly 'controlled' blasting work. Villagers in Siddhart Nagar suffered injuries too; five women were bruised by stones coming through their roofs of their homes and a seven-year old boy who had been playing outside his house needed two stitches to his head . Residents organized a protest march opposing blasting on the airport site and called for an atrocity case to be registered against CIDCO and GVK  . Two days after the landslide men of the village stalled work at the blasting site while the women made an unsuccessful attempt to meet with CIDCO officials at their offices . Officials ordered Siddhart Nagar residents to vacate their homes to get them out of the way while blasting work takes place, for two hours every day 1-2pm and 5-6pm. Villagers voiced strong objections to this disruption of their daily lives and being forced to stand in scorching sun . On 27th April 2018, many PAPs led by women brought road work in their village, being undertaken to facilitate movement of vehicles for airport project work, to a halt .
Biodiverse wildlife habitats encompassed within the site will be destroyed: 121 hectares of forest, 162 hectares of mangroves and 404 hectares of mudflats . Concerns that replacing waterlogged areas that soak up excess water with impermeable concrete and tarmac will disrupt the water balance in the wider region and make the surrounding area more susceptible to flooding were raised in 2010 . On 13th February 2018 hundreds of residents of Pargaon, one of the villages neighbouring Navi Mumbai Airport site, held a protest march saying landfilling works put them at risk of flooding . On 10th July 2018, residents of Dungi, another village on the edge of the airport site, staged a ‘rasta roko’ road block protesting flooding which they attributed to airport landfill works just 20 metres from their homes. Residents’ bedding and other furniture was left sodden and farmers said they would lose out on future crops due to flooding during the sowing season .
A study conducted by Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) showed that airport operations are likely to impinge upon birds habitats over a wide area of coastline, creeks, mangroves and inland wetlands. BNHS showed an estimated 266 bird species within a 10 kilometre radius of the airport site, including the Karnala Bird Sanctuary . Mangroves are an attractive habitat for many bird species. A mangrove sanctuary, on land bordering the airport, to mitigate against the destruction of mangroves was proposed, but abandoned due to the risk of bird strikes, collisions with aircraft that can cause fatal accidents. Instead, the area previously designated for the mangrove sanctuary will be made unattractive to birds . In February 2018, Vanashakti, an NGO focused on forest, mangrove and wetland protection, filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) claiming that failure to comply with environmental clearance requirements to replace mangrove habitats meant that conditions for starting the airport project has not been met. Vanashatki also stated that blasting of Ulwe hill had commenced without adhering to environmental rules .
By January 2019 the majority of the villagers had taken up CIDCO’s resettlement scheme and vacated their homes but a number of residents of Ganeshpuri, Targhar, Ulwe and Kombadbhuje villages still resisted eviction and remained in their homes. CIDCO asked remaining residents to send their children to a new school, built to replace Zilla Parishad school in Ulwe village. An affected resident said that the new school provided by CIDCO had no water supply, benches or playground and is in an isolated place leading them to fear sending their children there. Villagers said the existing school was shut down as a tactic to force them to vacate their homes. Pleas for CIDCO to keep their school open until the end of the academic year went unheeded. But a small group of women took responsibility for the children’s education and worked together to re-open the school. Two women met with committee members of the four villages, mobilising ten educated women who pitched in and became teachers at the school. The government had stopped providing ingredients for pupils’ mid-day meal, but the woman who had cooked these meals came forward to cook for the children.