Navi Mumbai airport gets MoEF green signal

Written by Economy Bureau | Mumbai, May 15 | Updated: May 17 2008, 04:13am hrs
The ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) has just two day ago given its in principle clearance for the Rs 4,000-crore Navi Mumbai international airport. MoEF, in March, had deferred environment clearance for the project on the grounds that the airport would involve reclamation of low-lying areas in an ecologically fragile zone as well as destruction of several hectares of mangroves.

A visibly relaxed Maharashtra chief minister Vilasrao Deshmukh said on Thursday. We have received an in principle clearance for the Navi Mumbai international airport which has been planned to ease out the burgeoning burden on the existing Mumbai international airport. The project is expected to be complete by 2012.

A senior state government functionary said that the civil aviation minister Praful Patel as well as the state government had sought the Prime Minister Manmohan Singhs intervention after MoEF had raised objections in March. On top of it, Patel had completely ruled out the possibility of changing the present site at Panvel, 35 km away from Mumbai where the state government already chose 1,140 hectares of land. The 1,140 hectares of land is essential to accommodate two parallel runways for simultaneous and segregated parallel operation with provision of full-length taxi ways on either side of the runways. The airfield has been designed to accommodate the new large aircrafts compatible to aerodrome code 4-E.

MoEFs decision has given a boost to the state government and its undertaking, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), which is a nodal agency for the proposed greenfield airport at Navi Mumbai. Cidco has already selected the US-based Louis Berger for the preparation of masterplan for the Navi Mumbai airport. Louis Berger, which had outbid Scott Wilson (UK), Maunsell (Singapore) and Mott McDonald (Mumbai), would prepare a comprehensive master plan, detailed project report, procurement documents and other necessary reports.

Navi Mumbai airport would support the rapidly growing air travel needs of Mumbai Metropolitan Region. It is expected to absorb annually 10 million passengers in its first operational year 2012, doubling to 20 million by 2020 followed by 30 million passengers in 2025 and ultimately 40 million by 2030. The airport is proposed to be developed through public-private participation (PPP) in which Cidco/Airports Authority of India would hold 26% equity and rest would be held by private developer to be selected through public bidding. Meanwhile, the state government has also kicked-off the land acquisition process for the Chakan airport in Pune district. Deshmukh said that the state-run Maharashtra Airports Development Corporation has been asked to submit reports on the land acquisition and other issues for the Chakan report within a week.