Navi Mumbai airport may get the nod this week

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

NEW DELHI - The union environment and forests ministry is likely to clear the Navi Mumbai airport project this week with the ministry’s expert appraisal committee (EAC) giving it a go-ahead, officials said Wednesday.

The green ministry and aviation ministry have been at loggerheads over the alleged delay in environment clearance for the airport.

The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) of Maharashtra last month submitted a revised draft of the project, addressing environmental concern raised by the ministry.

“No more clarification is needed from the CIDCO. We will give the committee’s recommendations on Navi Mumbai airport to the ministry in two-three days,” said Naresh Dayal, who heads the EAC.

According to senior environment ministry officials, the project is likely to be cleared soon, possibly within a week.

The environment ministry has been of the view that the construction of an airport at the proposed site in Navi Mumbai, some 20 km from the main city, will lead to destruction of a mangrove forest and diversion of two small rivers.

The ministry also objected to the project on the ground that it would lead to the blasting of an 80-metre-high hill which falls in the path of the runway.

The CIDCO submitted a revised proposal to the expert panel in which the distance between the two runways was reduced by 300 metres to ensure the two small rivers are not diverted.

“From our side, all issues have been addressed and there are no pending issues. Now the matter is with the EAC,” said a CIDCO official.

Planned as a public-private partnership, the project is proposed with 74 percent equity with the private players and the remaining 26 percent divided equally between the state-run Airports Authority of India and the CIDCO.

The project, proposed at a distance of some 35 km from the existing Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport in Mumbai, is expected to absorb the load due to future growth in population, business and commercial activity of the region.

Around 1,140 hectares of land has already been earmarked for it, officials said.

It is expected to handle 10 million passengers in its first operational year, doubling to 20 million in eight years. The aim is that the airport would have a handling capacity of 40 million passengers by 2030.

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