The Union environment ministry has asked the Maharashtra government to conduct a Social Impact Assessment (SIA) of Navi Mumbai, the site of the state’s new international airport.
SIA studies the effect of the project on livelihood of the locals and their possible displacement. It is also required to state the steps that are likely to be taken to prevent adverse impact of the project on the locals.
Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had accused the ministry of delaying the Navi Mumbai airport on environment grounds. He said the new airport was a necessity as the present international airport at Santa Cruz was getting congested.
While denying the charge, Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had said that the ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), the statutory body that gives environment clearance to plans, was examining the project.
The EAC, at its meeting in July, threw another bombshell on the state government when it said that the mandatory SIA was not done.
“The committee observes that that SIA study has not been carried out as per the National Rehabilitation and Resettlement Policy 2007, issued by Ministry of Rural Development,” the EAC minutes said.
The SIA is mandatory to be carried out with the Environment Impact Assessment of the project, which was not done in case of the Navi Mumbai airport. The committee has now asked the state government to conduct the inquiry.
The panel also wanted to know whether any alternate sites for developing the airport were examined or not.
The panel said the project will be examined only when the new information sought is provided, which the officials said will take some time to collect.