T.C. Benjamin, principal secretary, Urban Development Department, told Hindustan Times that the diversion of rivers is unavoidable if the new airport is to come up. However, the state is trying to ensure that the environmental damage is limited.
Will the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) shift the commercial 415-hectare component to the south, where it has 300 hectares? We are studying that. The area available is smaller than what we require. We are identifying the flat areas on the site since there are many hills. We’ll judge its potential after that.
What about diversion of rivers and concerns over mangroves? We are ready to go the extra mile to ensure that environmental concerns are resolved. We looked at every issue raised by the expert committee and are examining how to resolve them. The major issue was of the non-aeronautical area, where the eco-sensitive Vaghavli island and the river diversions have to be studied carefully. If the commercial plan is reduced or shifted, this can be minimised.
Is the diversion of rivers unavoidable? Yes, but we will reduce the environmental impact as much as possible. One of the runways is less than 200 mt away from the Gadhi river, which has corrosion-causing saline water. We have asked the Central Water and Power Research Station to study this. The report will be with us by September 13.
Despite so many hurdles, why is the state insisting on Navi Mumbai? A lot of planning has gone into this. This is the only site that is aeronautically well placed — its flight path is clear. Also, as far as connectivity is concerned — with the proposed Metro, monorail and the Mumbai Trans-Harbour Link — it’s the most feasible.