The Navi Mumbai airport will have to cross several more hurdles before the central Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) approves it.
The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), the MoEF panel evaluating the airport proposal, in its September 22 meeting asked CIDCO to consider moving the 222-hectare Special Economic Zones (SEZs) in the south of the site to another area.
The committee said that this land could then be used for non-aeronautical facilities such as warehouses, offices and entertainment centres that are now supposed to be in the north.
HT, on September 3, had reported that the non-aeronautical parts of the airport have been planned over area covered by mangroves and parts of the Gadhi river. It had also reported that there is about 300 hectares of untouched land to the south of the site, marked for an SEZ.
The committee has also asked CIDCO to check the suitability of three alternative sites — at Wada, Ansoli and Kalyan.
The minutes of the panel’s meeting said that if land acquisition issues are removed, all three sites are more suitable for the airport than the Navi Mumbai site.
It has also asked for an explanation on how passenger traffic would be divided between the existing Santacruz airport — planned for 40 million passengers a year by 2030-31 — and the Navi Mumbai airport, planned for 60 million fliers a year. The panel also asked CIDCO to reduce the distance between the two proposed runways that could prevent diverting the Gadhi river.
Tanaji Satre, managing director, CIDCO, who attended the meeting on September 22 with the EAC, said he had not gone through the minutes of the meeting and would not be able to comment on them.