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Forest nod: New city airport faces delay

mumbai Updated: Aug 05, 2016 01:32 IST
Saurabh Katkurwar
Saurabh Katkurwar
Hindustan Times
Forest nod

The Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) project has hit a roadblock again as the forest advisory committee (FAC) of ministry of environment and forest (MoEF) has deferred its decision on the stage-II forest clearance owing to discrepancies in the compensatory afforestation (CA) scheme.

This effectively means the project, which was supposed to take off in September, will get delayed.

However, V Radha, joint managing director of City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco), said attempts will be made to ensure the clearance is received soon for work to commence on time.

Cidco has already appointed contractors for pre-development work, which includes land levelling, hill cutting, diversion of high-tension wires and diversion of a river. It is expected to appoint a developer for the airport terminal work early next year.

After a two-decade-long wait, which saw several delays to get clearances and for the farmers — whose land has been acquired — to come on board, Cidco officials were confident of starting pre-development work in September.

A few weeks ago, Cidco had made a presentation to the FAC regarding the CA for use of 250 ha forest land, including mangroves, for airport development. Cidco and the state forest department had identified areas in Sudhagad and Alibaug in Raigad for afforestation and Panvel for mangroves plantation.

The FAC, however, is not satisfied with the plan, stating that many patches are either highly vegetated or contain rocky terrain, which makes plantation in these patches meaningless. So now it has asked Cidco to revise the CA scheme. The planned launch of construction work will be delayed if the revised scheme is not accepted by the FAC, and, subsequently, ratified by the ministry, in a month.

“We are meeting the FAC next week, in which the revised scheme will be presented. We already have fulfilled almost all compliances. We expect that FAC’s approval soon,” Radha said.

Cidco officials, who have experience in handling clearance cases, however, do not feel the nod will come in a month’s time. “Even if FAC recommends the project for forest clearance, it will go through scrutiny by the Inspector General of Forest, before the ministry makes any decision. The entire process is expected to take significant time,” said an official, who did not wish to be named.

Cidco officials who have experiences in handling clearance cases, however, do not feel that clearance will be issued in a month’s time. 

“Even if FAC recommends the project for forest clearance, it will go through scrutiny by Inspector General of Forest before ministry takes any decision. Entire process is expected to take significant time,” said an official, close to the development.