An expert panel will evaluate a tract of land near Kalyan as a possible site for Mumbai’s second airport, Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said on Saturday.
While it is true that the city’s only airport was overloaded, one could not ignore the problems with the Navi Mumbai site being proposed by the state government, he said.
“It has been made out that I am against this new site [in Navi Mumbai’,” he said in an interview with HT. “I cannot ignore the environmental violations.”
Three MPs from the Thane –Kalyan belt met him on Friday and suggested an alternative site near Kalyan, Ramesh said.
“It is an 1,800-acre tract lying with the defence services. I have passed on all related papers to the Expert Appraisal Committee [under the ministry], which is looking at the issue.”
He pointed out three problems with the Navi Mumbai site: An airport would divert two rivers, which could flood Panvel, 400 acres of mangroves would be destroyed as would a hillock.
“Also the site was in an CRZ-I area, which is environmentally sensitive and so a nod was not given. It was cleared through a special amendment, when there was a caretaker government,” Ramesh said. The sanction came three days before Ramesh took charge of the ministry.
“The amendment clearly says that it was amended for allowing construction, subject to neutralisation…Environment approval is not a formality…[a proposal] has to go through the clearances.”
He pointed out that the Airport Authority had first suggested Revas-Mandwa as a site in 1996.