A day after the Union Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) examined the Navi Mumbai airport site, sources said a compromise formula was being worked out to develop the city’s second airport at the same site.
The formula involves moving the site slightly northward, reducing the ecologically sensitive area in which commercial development is to take place, and diverting only one of two rivers that could be affected by the project.
“They [Centre] have asked us to shift the non-aeronautical area and rework the existing site,” a state official said, requesting anonymity.
Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh and members of the expert panel are expected to visit the site in September to check the feasibility of this plan.
Sources said the formula emerged after state officials told the panel on Friday why they had rejected the 17 other sites, including Kalyan and Rewas-Mandwa. “They fit the size criterion but failed in areas such as connectivity and geography,” said the official.
The existing plan has two zones: one, where the airport will come up, and the other, where the commercial component will be built. The site covers two rivers – the Ulwe, that flows southward, and the Kalundre, on the east – which would have to be diverted.
CIDCO officials said that if the commercial area is reduced and the site shifted to the northwest, the Kalundre river may not need to be diverted. Ramesh had feared that if diverted, it would flood Panvel in future.