The Navi Mumbai airport project is inching towards getting a green nod. Sources in the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) on Friday indicated that the clearance was likely to come through by mid-November.
The Centre’s Expert Appraisal Committee’s (EAC) three-day visit to Mumbai, including a site visit to the Navi Mumbai airport, and a discussion with chief minister Ashok Chavan have proved to be fruitful.
Chavan hoped that the airport would come up on schedule at its proposed site near Panvel. “Navi Mumbai airport will come up at the proposed site. Mumbai definitely needs a second airport in view of the increasing air traffic," Chavan said at an event later in the day.
He also said that the government would do whatever it can to get environmental clearance for the airport, but total compliance of recommendations of the EAC was not possible.
Chavan said he would be meeting union environment minister Jairam Ramesh to sort the issue out. “Completion of the airport as per schedule is important in view of rising costs and increasing air traffic. So, I have requested the EAC to submit its report as soon as possible,” Chavan said in a statement.
He said that EAC chairman Naresh Dayal agreed with Chavan’s contention that the city indeed needed the second airport within a stipulated period.
A source said that the EAC wanted the state to create connectivity between the airport and Mumbai.
Urban development secretary TC Benjamin said the connectivity would not be a problem because the government had already planned a Metro rail between Belapur and Taloja and Belapur and Mankhurd. “Other links like trans-harbour and multimodal Virar-Alibaug corridor will also get a push once we get clearance for the airport.”
The EAC on Thursday had made several suggestions to the CIDCO for incorporating in the final plan. The state has amended the new airport plan to save Gadhi River from diversion and to shift non-aeronautical area from north to south to save large-scale destruction of mangroves and water bodies. The EAC said it needed more protection for the green areas.
The CIDCO has also been asked to make sure that while the Ulwe River in the south is diverted, its water discharge capacity needs to be worked out well by construction of water canals-like structures.
Likewise, when the hill is flattened, there should be canalising of water and debris management for which a plan needs to be in place.
After the clearance, the CIDCO estimates that the environmental changes will take about a year after which the airport main building and runways will come up.