Mumbai’s skyline may soon be dotted with tiny helicopters ferrying commuters across town.
The state government, which had last year, proposed to set up heliports to facilitate helicopter travel in Mumbai, has decided to concentrate on building heliports (see box) at Nariman Point and Navi Mumbai on an immediate basis.
Earlier, it was decided to build heliports at four places but two sites, Bandra and Backbay Reclamation, have been dropped for now.
“The chief secretary-headed Inter Departmental Committee wants us to concentrate on Nariman Point and Navi Mumbai heliports,” a senior MMRDA official said on anonymity.
The clearance will take time and therefore tendering for the project is likely to begin only in 2011.
“We need to get permission from the defence, Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Coastal Regulatory Zone. We have asked the secretary, civil aviation to help us get permissions,” Urban Development Department Principal Secretary T.C. Benjamin said.
One heliport will come up at Nariman Point near the proposed Water Transport jetty, the other will come up in Nerul, Navi Mumbai. The government hopes to have the heliports functioning by 2013.
Heliports are small airports suitable only for use by helicopters. Heliports typically contain one or more helipads. Government officials say a heliport is necessary in a large city like Mumbai to serve passengers who need to quickly move within the city or to outlying areas.
In Mumbai the only designated helipads are at Mahalaxmi racecourse, which is used for private landings.
The other is at Raj Bhavan, which is used by the governor and heads of states and at INS Kunjali at Colaba, for defence purpose.
On an average, Mumbai sees 10-12 helicopter landings daily at Mahalaxmi racecourse.
This number is restricted due to the absence of landing spots in the city.
In 2008, the state set up an Inter Departmental Committee under the chief secretary’s chairmanship to look into the project.
The Navy has objected setting up of private helipads in south Mumbai since the naval base is located there. However, these heliports are proposed to be set up by the MMRDA, a government body and hence unlikely to be blocked by the Navy.