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Take-off on time?

The environmental and defence clearances may be in the bag, but the city’s second international airport proposed at Navi Mumbai still has a long way to go. SAYLI UDAS MMANIKIKAR

mumbai Updated: Dec 20, 2010 01:20 IST

The environmental and defence clearances may be in the bag, but the city’s second international airport proposed at Navi Mumbai still has a long way to go. The deadline for the first phase of the Rs 8,300-crore project is 2014 and there’s a long list of clearances, reports and surveys that must be in place before construction can even begin.

A high court okay for cutting mangroves and starting work on the 615-hectare mangrove park, changing the course of the Ulwe river and flattening a 80-mt hill are only some of the things City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) needs to take up on a war footing before work begins.

Can the new airport meet its deadline?

“Surely,” said CIDCO Joint Managing Director Tanaji Satre. “Construction will take off by the end of this year. We will stick to the 2014-15 deadline.”

The airport plan has been reworked and instead of launching the first phase with a capacity of 10 million passengers a year, it aims to manage 20 million by 2015. By 2031, the capacity will be raised to 60 million passengers a year.

On top of CIDCO’s priority list is high court permission for cutting mangroves and then forest clearance from the Ministry of Environment and Forests. These could easily cost the project a year.

“The ministry has assured us of the clearance on a priority basis. We should be able to get the rest in six months,” said a senior state government official on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

While the permissions are in process, CIDCO has to form a committee of experts to keep a watch on the plan’s implementation and give quarterly reports to the ministry.

The project will need additional environmental clearance for the area to the south of the main site where non-aeronautical activities have been shifted. “I don’t think it will be a problem. We only need approval for the area that is part of the coastal regulatory zone,” Satre said.