The Navi Mumbai International airport project that has come under scrutiny of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) is now facing opposition from city green groups.
On August 6, the Bombay Environmental Action Group (BEAG) wrote a letter to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, expressing their concern over the project site which they claim lacks consideration of environmental and economic factors.
An online petition was launched asking to withdraw the project from Navi Mumbai considering the negative environmental impact it will create.
In its last meeting with CIDCO in July, the MoEF asked it to produce additional details relating to social impact assessment, details of alternate sites assessed, a satellite imagery of the area among other things.
The BEAG, in its letter, explains that about 50 per cent of the Rs 4,952 crore will be incurred for reclaiming and diversion of rivers to make the site suitable for the project.
This will include destruction of Waghevalli, a 500-acre island in the estuary, diversion of two rivers, and building embankments around the airport, and raising the level of the entire site to 3 metres, it says.
The letter states that the IIT panel that submitted the report is not serious about alternative sites as Revas that has been mentioned is largely under water and that the report clearly mentions that given the restrictions no expansion will be possible for the airport at this site.
The letter says that the other site at Nevali village, about 50 km from Mumbai in Kalyan-Ambernath, offers a less expensive alternative and the opportunity for the development of infrastructure around the proposed airport.
This is also one of the suggestions made by Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
The online petition addressed to Ramesh talks of destruction of over 160 hectares of mangroves, the hazards of diverting the course of two rivers Ulwe and Ghadi. It also suggests that the Kalyan site where an old airstrip already exists can be a good option.