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New airport awaits nod from new government

The Bombay High Court may have last week cleared the last legal hurdle in the way of the proposed airport at Navi Mumbai but that does not mean work will start immediately. HT Political Bureau reports.

india Updated: May 06, 2009 01:44 IST
HT Political Bureau

The Bombay High Court may have last week cleared the last legal hurdle in the way of the proposed airport at Navi Mumbai but that does not mean work will start immediately.

It will be up to the new government at the centre to issue, as a special case for Mumbai, an amendment to the coastal regulation zone norms allowing destruction of mangroves for the airport project.

The high court accepted the state’s petition to exempt the airport from CRZ norms.

Joint managing director of City and Industrial Development Corporation, promoter for the airport D.G. Jadhav told HT, “The Court clearance is conditional to CIDCO complying with certain conditions including replanting of mangroves destroyed.”

Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was to discuss the issue in New Delhi today.

The construction of the airport was delayed after the Ministry of Environment and Forests refused to give permission for use of 1,140 hectares at Panvel, since it would involve reclamation of low-level areas in an ecologically fragile zone, as well as destruction of 115 hectares of mangroves.

Despite much lobbying with the Centre and a push from the Prime Ministers Office, the clearance did not come from the MoEF for a year.

In February this year, MoEF had asked the state to get an exemption from the Bombay High Court.

The court in 2006 had banned any destruction of mangroves and called for freezing all construction within 50 metres of mangroves.

Following this, CIDCO moved the high court seeking exemption from this order. CIDCO has already acquired 74 per cent of the land required for the airport.

Officials have argued that the second airport is essential to the city, because the existing Mumbai airport is already strained as it handles around 25 million passengers a year now. This figure is likely to go up to 91 million by 2030-31, while its capacity would only increase to 40 million.