The Navi Mumbai airport proposal, which is stuck due to environmental clearances, will face another acid test on Wednesday.
The City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) will present a changed plan, details of other airport sites, and a report from the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS), among other things to the Centre’s expert appraisal committee (EAC). “We are prepared on all fronts and have made necessary changes, which will be put up before the committee on Wednesday,” said CIDCO chairman Tanaji Satre.
Chief Secretary JP Dange, who was asked to look into the matter, has also sent his reply to the Prime Minister’s office. According to sources, Dange has assured that the state will look into all environmental issues raised regarding the Navi Mumbai site. The most important issue raised by the EAC was to check if the non-aeronautical component of the airport, which is proposed to be spread over 400 hectares of land to the north of the main site, can be shifted elsewhere. The land has mangroves on it and it is the holding area for the Gadhi River.
The state government has apparently conceded to the EAC’s demand and has agreed to contain all its requisite and basic non-aeronautical activities within 60 hectares of land to the north of the main site. This includes basic offices for Central Industrial Security Force (CISF), customs and cargo. The proposed commercial zone, which was to be built on the land, will now be shifted to the southern site on scattered plots.
CIDCO has, however, ruled out constructing runways on stilts as proposed by the EAC, stating it might not be feasible. They have cited safety concerns and cost escalation of almost 200 per cent as the reasons for rejecting the demand. The corporation has also put together the comparative details on four sites – Wada, Ansoli, Kalyan, and Navi Mumbai – on a scale of 0 to 100, as the EAC had requested them to re-examine them before zeroing down on Navi Mumbai.
“But, we have found that only the Navi Mumbai site is feasible and will be an appropriate airport site,” said Satre. About the BNHS report, a spokesperson from the society said a report would be presented to the Centre on an appropriate date.