Work on airport yet to take off | mumbai | Hindustan Times
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Work on airport yet to take off

mumbai Updated: Feb 14, 2013 01:39 IST
Saurabh Katkurwar

A state-of-the-art airport with a large terminal and multiple check-in counters might be just what frequent-fliers to the city need, but you’ll have to wait at least five years more for this.

Work on the Navi Mumbai International Airport, which was originally supposed to be ready in 2012, is yet to take-off, with pending clearances and land acquisition hurdles still plaguing the project.

City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra Ltd (Cidco), the nodal agency developing the project, is awaiting a few crucial nods, before the actual work on the promised airport begins – a process that the agency says will take a year more.

This means that the complete project, which is being undertaken in four phases, won’t be ready before 2030, and the first phase — which includes opening of one terminal and one runway — will not be open to public before 2017-18.

At the heart of the problem is the issue of rehabilitation of Project Affected Persons (PAP). Cidco needs to acquire 291 acres of private land, from 18 villages.

The PAPs have demanded 35% of the developed land and Rs2 crore as compensation for every hectare of their land that is taken up by the project.

Cidco, however, has said it will not be able to give more than 22% of the developed land.

The nodal agency is also in a fix because the Centre’s civil aviation ministry refusing to allow Cidco to start the bidding process for the project, until rehabilitation issues are sorted out. Cidco has sent Request for Qualification (RFQ) documents to the union ministry, but can only start inviting bids for the proposed airport once the RFQ is approved.

This is disappointing because environmental clearances, which had posed the biggest hurdle to the project, are nearly sorted out.

The 2,402-acre land needed for developing the airport includes protected mangrove land and low-lying areas. It is also located close to the Karnala bird sanctuary, which is a protected area.

But though Cidco is still to receive clearance under the Forest Conservation Act, 1980, to clear 108.50 hectares of mangroves, the environment ministry in November 2010 gave the project the green nod, allowing it to construct in mangrove areas after altering the course of a river.

Taking note of the delays in the project, the Centre last year set up the Navi Mumbai International Airport Project Monitoring and Implementation Committee (PMIC), headed by state chief secretary JK Banthia, to ensure speedy approvals and expedite the project.

The tussle between the state and the Centre may also be stalling the progress on the aiport.

“We have been requesting the Centre to give us powers to clear the RFQ. There is no reason to halt the bidding process. The issues of land acquisition and forest clearance can be addressed even after the bidding process begins,” said a senior state government official.