PM Narendra Modi lays foundation stone of Navi Mumbai International airport, says govt transforming aviation sector

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Navi Mumbai | Updated: February 19, 2018 7:35:09 AM

Modi laid the foundation stone for the first phase of the Rs 16,700-crore Navi Mumbai international airport which will give a breather to the choked single-runway Mumbai airport. The event took place about 21 years after the idea was first mooted.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation stone for the second airport for the megapolis on Sunday. (Twitter)

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who laid the foundation stone for the second airport for the megapolis on Sunday, said aviation infrastructure is lagging behind and his government is committed to transforming the sector, making air travel more affordable. Modi laid the foundation stone for the first phase of the Rs 16,700-crore Navi Mumbai international airport which will give a breather to the choked single-runway Mumbai airport. The event took place about 21 years after the idea was first mooted. “While the aviation sector is growing fast (clipping at 20 per cent for the past many months), aviation infrastructure is lagging behind this. Our endeavour is to increase the speed of work,” Modi said after performing the ground-breaking ceremony for the airport. The function was also attended by governor CH Vidyasagar Rao, Union transport minister Nitin Gadkari, state chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, and GVK Reddy of the GVK Group which is building the airport in association with state-run infra development agency Cidco in a 74:26 equity structure. Modi said the Navi Mumbai airport is one of the many projects worth over Rs 10 trillion (Rs 10 lakh crore) which were stuck and his government has provided funds and it is now progressing.

“I believe the airport will be operational on time,” he said without putting a timelime to it. Though the Cidco as been claiming that the first phase with 10 million passenger capacity would be ready by 2019, junior aviation minister had said the work would not be over before the next five years. Modi accused the previous governments of not realising the growth potential of the aviation sector and not having a policy in place to support the growing requirement. “No one earlier realised the growth potential this sector has. There was no policy in place for this sector. But we have brought in,” he said, adding the sector is growing so fast that in the past one year alone as many as 900 planes were booked by various airlines, which is exactly the double the present fleet of 450 planes in the country.

The Rs 16,700-crore Navi Mumbai airport was planned way back in 1997 as a secondary airport to meet the growing needs of Mumbai at an investment of Rs 3,000 crore. The project was inordinately delayed due to a myriad of factors, including political indecision, issues of environmental clearances and the funding. The City Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), which is developing the new airport along with GVK Group, expects the first flight to take off in 2019. The GVK Group holds 74 per cent stake in the project, the rest being held by the Cidco and the Airports Authority. However, the land needed for the airport–over 2,268 hectares of which nearly 1,160 hectares will be used for aeronautical purposes–is yet to be fully acquired. Ten villages in Navi Mumbai have been impacted by the proposed airport. Until now, Cidco has rehabilitated close to 400 of the 3,500 affected families. Each family has been offered alternative plots, monetary compensation, construction aid, rent allowances and additional amenities in the Pushpak Nagar where they will be rehabilitated.

The new airport will have two parallel runways, and will handle close to 80 flights an hour. It is expected to significantly ease the load of the congested Mumbai airport, which handles over 900 flights a day (the peak was 980 flights in mid-January), and is known as the world’s busiest single- runway facility, accounting for almost over 25 per cent of the entire air traffic in the country. The first phase is likely to be completed by the end of 2019, with one runway and the terminal building ready to handle up to 10 million passengers. The second phase, to be completed by 2022, will take the handling capacity to 25 million passengers. The third phase will be completed by 2027, and at the completion of the fourth phase by 2031, the capacity will be 60 million passengers. The Mumbai airport’s capacity is 40 million, but since 2016 it has been handling many more millions of passengers.

The government is transforming the aviation sector and focusing on providing connectivity and making air travel affordable, Prime Minister Narendra Modi said. “Our aviation sector is growing tremendously. This makes quality infrastructure in the aviation sector important. Our government brought an aviation policy that is transforming the sector,” he said. “Aviation will also boost the tourism sector in the country,” Modi said at an event in Navi Mumbai after performing the groundbreaking ceremony of Navi Mumbai International Airport and dedicating the 4th container terminal at Jawaharlal Nehru Port Trust to the nation. “Around 450 aircraft are now operational in India, including those owned privately. This is the figure since Independence. However, just within last one year, there have been orders for 900 new planes,” Modi said. Modi stressed the need to enhance aviation infrastrutcure capacity to meet the rising demand for air travel. The Sagarmala project for port development is ushering not only development of ports but also port-led development, Modi said. “Globalisation is a reality and top infrastructure is needed to keep pace with it,” Modi said. “If we have to carve out a place in a globalised world, we need to enhance our waterways,” he added. New railway lines for Mumbai, waterways and a statue of Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj in the Arabian Sea will be completed by 2020, Modi said.

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