New Delhi, Dec. 2: A group of ministers today decided to take the first step to fulfil the Prime Ministerís promise of freeing the countryís financial hub of slums.
The groupís meeting here, presided over by Planning Commission deputy chairman K.C. Pant, decided to relocate about 42,000 slum houses from around Mumbaiís Sahar airport to Kanjur Marg on the city outskirts.
It envisages building and distributing free houses to all the displaced families and could garner strong political support for the BJP-Shiv Sena alliance in Maharashtra.
The relocation move will be announced by the Prime Minister on January 26.
The government intends to recover the estimated cost of about Rs 700 crore from commercial developments at the same site.
The meeting also decided that the Centre would find ways of constructing other dwellings so that slumdwellers elsewhere in the city could be relocated and gifted free houses.
Todayís decision will also help develop Sahar by building new aircraft bays and aprons and extending the runway to help modernise the airport considered the main gateway to the country.
Civil aviation ministry officials said removing the slums was important not only for the airport but also for passenger safety as the slums magnify the dangers of bird strikes. Illegal factories that have mushroomed in the area generate waste that attracts scavenger birds and contribute to the smog at the airport.