The Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) project has been delayed by another few months. After being in the planning stage for two decades, construction was slated to begin at the start of next year. But delays in obtaining a forest clearance, the re-entry of a bidder, and the cancellation of a pre-construction work contract have forced the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) to postpone the submission date for bids by two months, to November 7. This means construction is unlikely to begin before the middle of next year and the first phase is unlikely to be operational by the end of 2019.
“We had no option but to extend the date for submitting bids to give the new bidder (a consortium comprising Hiranandani Group and Zurich Airport) enough time to prepare. We are working on various options to ensure that this does affect the schedule,” said an official, who did not wish to be named. The Ministry of Home Affairs had denied security clearance to the Hiranandani Group-Zurich Airport consortium at the start of 2016, forcing it to pull out.
After receiving the bids Cidco may take two to three months to study them and finalise the developer. After doing so, it will still need the approval of the Centre to appoint the developer.
The decision of the Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) to hold off on the final forest clearance is another factor in the delay. Cidco also cancelled a pre-construction work contract for hill cutting, land levelling and river diversion after the appointed contractor reportedly did not fulfil the necessary criteria. Now, Cidco has merged two packages of the pre-construction projects and issued fresh tenders.
Meanwhile, Cidco is also working on the Navi Mumbai Airport Influence Notified Area (NAINA) project – the new planned city that will come up around the airport. Cidco on Wednesday signed an agreement with Beijing’s China Fortune Land Development Co Ltd, which specialises in industrial townships, to exchange know-how in the planning of new townships such as NAINA.
Chief minister Devendra Fadnavis, who was present when the memorandum of understanding was signed, said the two agencies will now devise a strategy to work together for Maharashtra’s economic and urban development.
“The MoU is the first step and paves the way for a longer journey. This is simply to forge the partnership on paper. Both sides will now prepare an implementation strategy to make the MoU fruitful,” Fadnavis said.
CIDCO officials said the corporation will seek the Chinese company’s expertise in the detailed planning of certain pockets of NAINA, which is touted to be larger than Mumbai.
China Fortune Land Development, which has revenues of $11 billion, has helped plan and operate more than 40 industrial city developments in countries such as Indonesia, Vietnam, Malaysia, Egypt, Myanmar and the Philippines, among others.