A third airport on Mumbai’s outskirts may soon be a reality, as the Maharashtra government is considering an abandoned airstrip and a 730-hectare plot in Kalyan to be developed as a domestic terminal.
The move comes after it was found that the existing airports in Santacruz and Sahar have reached a point of saturation and may not be able to handle additional traffic till the Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) is operational, which is expected to happen only in 2020.
The city has an aerodrome at Juhu. However, it is only used by helicopters and chartered planes. It cannot be used for passenger flight operations, mainly due to its limited size.
The central government’s plan to boost regional airport connectivity by building 50 new airports at small towns in the next three years will substantially add to the existing load at Mumbai’s airports. As such, the state government wants to develop an additional airport immediately, to decrease the air traffic at the city airports, which cater to about 40 million passengers annually.
The proposed airport area falls in Naveli, Kalyan, and has an airstrip that was built by the Royal Air Force during World War II. The Airports Authority of India (AAI) looks after the airstrip, while the plot falls under the jurisdiction of the defence ministry.
“We expect a significant increase in Mumbai’s air traffic after airports are built at small towns under the regional airport connectivity plan. As the Navi Mumbai Airport is not expected to be ready soon, we need a new airport. Domestic flight operations can be held at Kalyan,” said Swadheen Kshatriya, chief secretary of the state.
According to officials close to the development, the proposed land can be used to operate small aircraft.
Tussle over location
The site at Kalyan was seen as a serious competitor to the Navi Mumbai International Airport when the state government started looking for land to develop a second airport.
In 2007, National Security Advisor MK Narayan told the state that the airport could not be constructed in Kalyan as the proposed site was located near a research and development laboratory of the Bhabha Atomic Research Centre (BARC)
However, local politicians demanded that the airport be relocated from Navi Mumbai to Kalyan in 2010
Centre’s regional connectivity scheme
The state government signed an agreement with the civil aviation ministry to develop 10 almost non-functional regional airports/airstrips under the Centre’s regional connectivity scheme.
The 10 airports are Kolhapur, Shirdi, Amravati, Gondia, Nashik, Jalgaon, Nanded, Solapur, Ratnagiri and Sindhudurg
Under the scheme, the central government will foot 80% of the cost of viability gap funding, and the rest will be borne by the state.
Under the scheme, these airports will be provided with road, rail, metro and waterway corridors to ensure smooth connectivity with major airports and other modes of transport.
India has more than 30 non-operational airports and more than 400 airstrips dating back to World War II.
MMRDA conducts monorail trial
The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA) on Thursday conducted a trial of the monorail between GTB Nagar station and Mint Colony on the Wadala- Jacob Circle corridor, called the second phase. According to officials, the trial was carried out from 11.30am to 2pm, during which, the monorail passed through areas such as Dadar and Parel for the first time.