As the Navi Mumbai airport project awaits environmental clearance, a plan to extend the Juhu airport runway into the sea may also face green obstacles.
The Airports Authority of India has granted in-principle approval to the project to extend the Juhu runway from its current length of 1,143 metres to 2,020 metres.
This would enable shifting the operation of business jets and small aircraft like turboprop ATR-72s from the almost -saturated Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport to Juhu, official sources said.
Movement of large aircraft at the Mumbai airport is being affected due to longer runway occupancy and landing time of smaller aircraft, which reduces the overall handling capacity of the airport that has cross runways.
The Juhu runway is proposed to be extended into the sea by cutting through the famed Juhu beach and an arterial road, for which an underpass tunnel would have to be constructed below the runway for road traffic, they said.
Estimated to cost around Rs 2,000 crore, the project is to be implemented through the public-private participation model. While technical studies would take around 6-7 months, actual construction is likely to take two years, they said. KPMG, which is the consultant selected by the AAI for the Juhu project, has suggested that the extension of the runway into the sea be done by using concrete stilts as was being done in case of the Chennai airport expansion project, officials said.
Such a plan would maintain smooth flow of sea water even during tides and go a long way to avoid environmental obstacles, they said.
A survey of the ocean bed has to be undertaken to see if pillars can be built and whether these would affect the underwater flora and fauna, apart from the ebb and flow of the water, the sources said.
As the project falls under the Coastal Regulation Zone, it has to be ratified by the Maharashtra Coastal Zone Management Authority. This body would have to study various aspects, ranging from pollution, effluent discharge, fishing and coral life to high and low tide activity.