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Navi Mumbai Airport, Panvel, India


Approximately 3,500 families residing in 10 villages are being displaced a new airport in Navi Mumbai [1]. They have sustained a long-term struggle for fair rehabilitation [2]. 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 [3]. 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 [4].

A major protest by residents of six villages on 12th October 2017 brought pre-construction work on the airport site to a halt [5]. Families still living on the site resolved to remain in their homes until the plots of land allocated for resettlement were developed [6]. On 27th October it was announced that work on the Navi Mumbai Airport site would resume under heavy police protection [7].

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 [8]. 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 [9].

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 [4][5]. In November 2017 some PAPs alleged that records proving their land ownership had been destroyed by CIDCO [10]. 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 [11].

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 [9]. Residents organized a protest march opposing blasting on the airport site and called for an atrocity case to be registered against CIDCO and GVK [12] [13]. 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 [14]. 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 [15]. 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 [16].

Biodiverse wildlife habitats encompassed within the site will be destroyed: 121 hectares of forest, 162 hectares of mangroves and 404 hectares of mudflats [17]. 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 [3]. 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 [18]. 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 [19].

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 [20]. 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 [21]. 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 [22].

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.[30]

Basic Data

Name of conflict:Navi Mumbai Airport, Panvel, India
State or province:Maharashtra
Location of conflict:Panvel
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)

Source of Conflict

Type of conflict. 1st level:Infrastructure and Built Environment
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Ports and airport projects
Transport infrastructure networks (roads, railways, hydroways, canals and pipelines)
Land acquisition conflicts
Specific commodities:Land

Project Details and Actors

Project details

The owner/investor of Navi Mumbai International Airport is the Indian government and Airports Authority India (AAI). A mega-airport is planned, handling 10 million passengers annually upon completion of the first phase, rising to 60 million passengers per year upon commencement of full commercial operations with two 4 kilometre runways, which is scheduled for 2030. If this traffic projection proves accurate Navi Mumbai will be India's busiest airport [21]. The airport core area, allocated for aeronautical activities, is 1,160 hectares of land. In addition to the core airport site, three areas have been earmarked for non-aeronautical activities (airport-linked commercial development such as hotels and retail), taking the total airport area to 2,268 hectares. Three plots of land have been allocated for rehabilitation and resettlement of affected villagers.[23]

A Special Purpose Vehicle (SPV), Navi Mumbai International Airport Limited (NMIAL), has been formed by GVK and City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) to execute the airport project [21]. CIDCO, a city planning agency formed by the Maharashtra state government, is responsible for implementing the airport project. GVK, an Indian conglomerate with interests in energy, resources, transport and other sectors, has been awarded the contract to build and operate the airport [24].

Waterlogged and low-lying areas of the site are being raised from 2 metres to 5 metres above sea level [21]. Massive earthworks preparing the site for construction of the airport began in October 2017. Two rivers, Ulwe and Gahdi, are being re-routed. Hills are being blasted away with explosives, the soil and stones being utilized for filling in and levelling the site [25]. The height of Ulwe hill is being reduced from 90 metres to 10 metres. Vast volumes of loose earth and stones will be compacted down to make the site stable enough to withstand airport operations [9]. A high level of state expenditure on pre-construction earthworks was allocated to make the fragile coastal zone sufficiently resilient to withstand the new airport, an estimated US$370 million [26].

Predictions of project cost escalation have proved well founded. By 2017 CIDCO's cost estimate for the project had more than tripled, escalating from a 2013 figure of US$753 million to US$2.5 billion [21]. According to credit rating agency CRISIL by July 2018 the estimated cost of phase one development has escalated to US$1.975 billion, about 50% higher than the previous cost estimate [27]. As of 5 July 2018 1,125 structures in the core airport site had been demolished and almost 60 per cent of affected villagers had yet to be relocated from the area [28]. By 27 July it was reported that about 1,300 affected families had moved away from the site to the resettlement area: Pushpak Nagar [29].

Project area:2,268
Level of Investment for the conflictive project2,359,000,000
Type of populationRural
Affected Population: 3,500 families
Start of the conflict:05/05/2010
Company names or state enterprises:Navi Mumbai International Airport Private Ltd (NMIAL) from India
GVK Power and Infractructure (GVK) from India - GVK will hold a 74% stake in Navi Mumbai International Airport Private Limited (NMIAL)
City Industrial Development Corporation Limited (CIDCO) from India - CIDCO is the nodal government agency for the project and holds a 26% stake in Navi Mumbai International Airport Private Limited (NMIAL), the special purpose vehicle to implement the Navi Mumbai International Airport project
Relevant government actors:National government of India
Airports Authority of India
Maharashtra State Government
India's Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA)
Environmental justice organizations (and other supporters) and their websites, if available:Navi Mumbai International Airport Affected Peoples
Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) -
Vanashakti -
Conservation Action Trust -
Mangrove Society of India -

Conflict & Mobilization

IntensityHIGH (widespread, mass mobilization, violence, arrests, etc...)
Reaction stagePREVENTIVE resistance (precautionary phase)
Groups mobilizing:Farmers
Social movements
Fisher people
Forms of mobilization:Boycotts of official procedures/non-participation in official processes
Development of a network/collective action
Lawsuits, court cases, judicial activism
Official complaint letters and petitions
Public campaigns
Street protest/marches
Appeals/recourse to economic valuation of the environment
Refusal of compensation
A small group of women re-opened a school on the site that had been closed down, teaching the children and providing a mid-day meal


Environmental ImpactsVisible: Air pollution, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity), Floods (river, coastal, mudflow), Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Noise pollution, Deforestation and loss of vegetation cover, Large-scale disturbance of hydro and geological systems, Reduced ecological / hydrological connectivity
Potential: Food insecurity (crop damage), Global warming, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Other Environmental impacts
Other Environmental impactsLoss of biodiverse wildlife habitats - forest, mangroves and mudflats
Impact on bird species and habitats due to risk or bird strikes - collisions with aircraft
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Mental problems including stress, depression and suicide
Potential: Malnutrition, Other Health impacts
Other Health impactsHealth damage from pollutants emitted by aircraft and road vehicles
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Displacement, Loss of livelihood, Specific impacts on women, Land dispossession, Loss of landscape/sense of place, Militarization and increased police presence
Potential: Loss of traditional knowledge/practices/cultures, Violations of human rights


Project StatusUnder construction
Conflict outcome / response:Compensation
Under negotiation
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:Many affected residents are dissatisfied with the compensation and rehabilitation that they have been offered. By August 2018 only approximately 1,300 of the affected families had accepted the compensation package and left the airport site area.

Sources & Materials

References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

The Plane Truth, Debi Goenka and Gautam S Patel, Economic & Political Weekly, 11 September 2010

[1] Rehab of 3500 families in core airport area poses challenge for Cidco, Times of India, 7 September 2017

[2] Navi Mumbai Airport – displacement and destruction, Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM), 24 January 2018

[3] Navi Mumbai airport: a silent conspiracy, Down to Earth, 7 June 2015

[4] Navi Mumbai airport work halts for a day as villagers protest, Times of India, 13 October 2017

[5] Villagers stall Navi Mumbai airport work, The Hindu, 13 October 2017

[6] How political turf war helped revive Navi Mumbai airport, Times of India, 29 October 2017

[7] Stalled Navi Mumbai airport work to restart with police cover, Times of India, 27 October 2017

[8] Talks between CIDCO, PAP deadlocked, The Hindu, 15 October 2015

[9] Five engineers injured at site of Navi Mumbai International Airport while carrying out controlled blasting, DNA India, 6 January 2018

[10] Land records and proofs allegedly destroyed by CIDCO for Navi Mumbai Airport project, nmtvindia, 15 November 2017

[11] Navi Mumbai Airport will drown nearly 2000 villages under water, nmtvindia, 28 November 2017

[12] PAPs takes out protest morcha against blasting at Navi Mumbai Airport site, nmtvindia, 6 January 2018

[13] Villagers injured during blasting work at Navi Mumbai airport site want action taken against GVK,, 9 January 2018

[14] Villagers stall Navi Mumbai airport work, The Hindu, 9 January 2018

[15] Ulwe villagers made to vacate homes for two hours daily, The Hindu, 13 January 2018

[16] Navi Mumbai airport may miss 2019 deadline, says civil aviation secretary, Hindustan Times, 11 May 2018

[17] Firms shortlisted for Navi Mumbai airport say it will take 6 years to build, Times of India, 5 January 2017

[18] Navi Mumbai airport project: Hundreds stage morcha, say village in danger of flooding, Hindustan Times, 14 February 2018

[19] ‘Airport landfill flooding our village’, The Hindu, 11 July 2018

[20] A winged territory? Proposed Navi Mumbai airport site is home to 266 bird species, Times of India, 5 June 2016

[21] Navi Mumbai International Airport, CAPA, July 2018

[22] Navi Mumbai airport: PIL claims authorities failed to meet conditions before starting project,, 22 February 2018

[23] Navi Mumbai airport: 21-year-old-dream set to become true, Times of India 17 February 2017

[24] PM's Navi Mumbai airport event: GVK asks Cidco, JNPT to share cost, The Economic Times, 27 February 2017

[25] Ulwe hill, river gives way to international airport; CIDCO to videograph for posterity, Yimes of India, 3 May 2017

[26] Bombay Environmental Action group voices concern over destruction due to Navi Mumbai Airport, nmtvindia, 15 December 2017

[27] Phase 1 of Navi Mumbai airport to cost ₹135.6 bn, The Hindu, 13 July 2018

[28] 60% airport PAPs stay put; netas jump into the fray with promises, Times of India, 5 July 2018

[29] Navi Mumbai International Airport: Have to wait till end of monsoon for rest of families to shift, says CIDCO, Indian Express, 27 July 2018

[30] Village women turn teachers to reopen ZP school, , The Hindu , 19 January 2019

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

Setback to Navi Mumbai Airport as locals boycott meeting

Bombay Environmental Action group voices concern over destruction due to Navi Mumbai Airport, altering the course of rivers and making the fragile coastal zone sufficiently resilient to withstand the airport

Residents up in arms against Navi Mumbai Airport

It's CIDCO Vs Residents In Navi Mumbai

Navi Mumbai Airport will drown villages under water

PAPs huge protest morcha against Navi Mumbai Airport

Meta information

Contributor:Rose Bridger, Stay Grounded, email: mappin[email protected]
Last update18/08/2019
Conflict ID:3652



Map of Navi Mumbai Airport site

Source: CIDCO

Map of Navi Mumbai Airport, affected villages

Source: Global Anti-Aerotropolis Movement (GAAM)

Protest stalls airport construction

12th October 2017 protest stalls construction of Navi Mumbai Airport. Source: The Hindu

Villagers stall blasting work

8th January 2018 - villagers stall work on Navi Mumbai Airport after blasting triggered a landslide. Source: The Hindu

Vacating homes for blasting work

13th January 2018 - Residents were ordered to vacate their homes during blasting work. Source: The Hindu

'Rasta roko' protest against flooding

In July 2018 residents of Dungi village blocked a road in protest against flooding they claimed was caused by Navi Mumbai Airport landfill works. Source: The Hindu

A re-opened school in Ulwe

In January 2019 villagers re-opened a school on Navi Mumbai airport site, they say it was closed down to force residents to vacate. Source: The Hindu