Environmentalists said Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh’s final nod for the Navi Mumbai airport ignored concerns raised about noise pollution at hill stations such as Matheran or heritage sites such as the Elephanta Caves because of flight movements. There was no mention of the impact on the wildlife at Karnala Bird Sanctuary either.
“Would you want to spend a weekend in Matheran with planes passing by every two minutes?” said Debi Goenka, who heads the Conservation Action Trust.
While the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) claimed that it would protect most of the mangroves around the airport site, Goenka was skeptical. “More than 90 percent of such promises made are not kept,” he said.
Environmentalist Sumaira Abdulali agreed that such promises appear to be dubious. “We have to ensure that it gets implemented properly,” she said.
Abdulali also said the government should immediately act to save the hills at Navi Mumbai. “You cannot consider the hill being flattened for the airport in isolation,” she said. The government approved the flattening of a 90-metre hill because it has been significantly quarried. “It’s like chopping off the head because you have pimple on the face,” said Goenka.