The outgoing Manmohan Singh government on Monday cleared the final hurdle in the way of building the second airport for the city in Navi Mumbai.
The Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) issued a notification exempting the project from the stringent Costal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms, which forbids construction in ecologically fragile areas near the coast.
The one-off clearance came after the state government — as directed by the Bombay High Court — sought the ministry’s help in doing away with the CRZ for the plot. The state government has assured the court that it will replant mangroves on 800 hectares of the project land.
The clearance was contrary to expectations that the project would have to wait for the new government to be sworn in at the Centre.
The state government is elated with the clearance because it can start the bidding process before the code of conduct for the state Assembly polls comes into action in August or September.
Chief Minister Ashok Chavan said the new airport would start operating by 2013. “I thank Mr Manmohan Singh for the quick clearance. Now, we have a time-bound programme… We expect to perform the bhoomipujan in April-May 2010 and inaugurate the airport in 2013.”
It’s projected that Mumbai airport, the busiest in the country, will not be able to handle the traffic growing by six lakh passengers annually by 2012. At present, it handles 25 lakh passengers a year.
The state’s undertaking the City and Industrial Development Corporation will develop the airport on 2,000 hectares of land near Panvel at a cost of around Rs 10,000 crore.