Coming out strongly against the delay in clearing the proposed airport at Navi Mumbai, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel said this was “creating more environmental problems” than solving them.
“It’s not just a question of a hundred hectares of mangroves,” Patel told Hindustan Times. “There are larger issues involved. By not clearing the project, people are, in fact, creating more environmental problems.”
“Mumbai has no space — on ground or in air — and aircraft are left hovering over the airport for hours. Doesn’t that cause pollution?” he asked.
Patel hit out at the environment ministry, saying, “someone should ask people who have suggested that a new airport be built further away from the city what impact that would have on the environment, with thousands of vehicles going up and down daily?”
Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had recently highlighted the damage the project would cause to the environment and had asked the state to consider other sites.
The airport will lead to the hacking of 150 hectares of mangroves, diverting of two rivers and flattening of a hillock.
After a delegation of MPs from Maharashtra called on the Prime Minister to intervene, the civil aviation ministry issued a statement on August 2, stating that any further delay in clearing the project would have a cascading effect on Mumbai’s connectivity and the country’s economic growth.
“A new airport should have come up in Navi Mumbai five years ago,” Patel said. “Even if we start work now, it would take another five years.”