The state government is expecting the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) clear the Navi Mumbai international airport near Panvel that ambitious planners want to get ready for use in December 2013.
The developing agency — City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) — apprised Chief Minister Ashok Chavan of the progress of the Rs 10,000-crore project in a review meeting on Thursday.
“We are expecting the Centre’s nod for environment impact assessment soon following which we will invite bids for development of the airport,” said urban development secretary T C Benjamin. “Prior to that, we will seek the High Court’s permission to build on mangroves.”
Benjamin said the construction was expected to begin in August or September 2010 and the airport is expected to be operational by December 2013.
“The airport was to start in 2014 but the chief minister insisted that the work should be speeded up,” Benjamin said.
CIDCO’s Managing Director G S Gill too hoped that the project would get the MoEF’s final nod by next month.
The existing airport at Sahar will soon be inadequate for passenger traffic, which is growing by six lakh passengers annually. The airport currently handles 2.5 million passengers annually.
Early this year, the Centre had issued a notification exempting the airport from the stringent Costal Regulatory Zone (CRZ) norms. The one-off clearance came after the state government sought the MoEF’s help in doing away with CRZ following the High Court’s directives. However, after the new government came to power, the ministry refused permission, relenting only when the PM pressed for it.
The project had raised environmental concerns because it meant clearing at least 150 acres of mangroves from the 2,000-hectare project site. CIDCO had assured the court that it would replant the mangroves.
CIDCO had submitted its rehabilitation and environment conservation proposal to the ministry a while ago. Apart from replanting the mangroves, the agency has also offered a rehabilitation package to the 10 project-affected villages.
The state also plans to start a new airport at Shirdi by October-November 2010.