Promises of speedy work aside, Navi Mumbai airport still seems a way off

Less than 40% of the families whose homes and farms will make way for the project have moved to resettlement sites, although the deadline was July 2018.

mumbai Updated: Sep 06, 2018 02:32 IST
Neha LM Tripathi
Neha LM Tripathi
Hindustan Times
Navi Mumbai International Airport,Aviation secretary RN Choubey,Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport
A notice indicating the site of the Navi Mumbai International Airport in Ulwe. (Bachchan Kumar/ HT Photo)

On Tuesday, aviation secretary RN Choubey announced at an aviation summit in Delhi that the Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA), the only solution to decongest Mumbai’s saturated Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA), will be ready by September 2021.

Work on the ground, however, is struggling to meet the deadline. Less than 40% of the families - 1,100 of 3,000 - whose homes and farms will make way for the project, are yet to move to the resettlement sites, even though the deadline was July 2018.

A total of 2,240 hectares will be needed for the airport being built by the GVK group, which manages Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj International Airport (CSMIA) and the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco). The company created for the project, Navi Mumbai International Airport (P) Limited (NMIAL), is jointly owned by GVK-led Mumbai International Airport (P) Ltd, (MIAL) and Cidco, which hold 74% and 26% stake in the company, respectively.

After GVK won bids to develop the airport, Prime Minister Narendra Modi laid the foundation of the airport on February 18. GVK sought expressions of interest (EOI) from companies for construction, procurement and engineering the airport last week. The last date for responses of the EOI is September 10.

The project affected people (PAPs) will be moving to resettlement sites at Ulwe and Pushpak Nagar. Residents of 10 villages, including Chichpada, Kopar, Kolhi, Waghivli Wada, Varcha Owle, Targhar, Ulwe and Kombadbujhe, are proposed to be shifted out. The families that have already shifted have moved into rented flats in Pushpak and Ulwe nodes, with their rents to be paid by the government till they move to the resettlement colonies.

Sagar Gharat, sarpanch of Varcha Owle village, said, “Many villagers have demolished their homes and moved to rented flats.But we get updates from the media rather than the authorities. ” Other villagers said that they will move to the rehabilitation sites only when basic amenities like water, roads and electricity are available there. Officials from CIDCO said some families want to shift out only after Ganeshotsav.

Mohan Ninawe, public relation officer (PRO), Cidco, said, “It is going to take around 15 months for the PAPs to develop their houses in the plots given to them. Hence according to the procedure, they are to shift into rental houses until their houses in allotted plots are ready. We are working on water connection. We are considering their demands positively.”

The villagers said the families that have shifted out have done so because they live close to the hills that are being levelled. MIAL carries out hill blasting operations between from 1pm and 2pm daily. Pedestrian and vehicular movements in the area are shut from 12.30pm to 2pm for safety reasons.

Officials in charge of ground levelling work at the site said, “The hill blasting procedure was initially being done twice a day (from 12.30pm to 2pm and 5pm to 6pm) but it is now being carried out only in the afternoon.”

A senior NMIAL official said, “The villagers have been cooperating well with us. We are currently working on blasting hill and diversion of Ulwe river. We aim to begin construction of the airport terminal building from January.”

“The height of the hill has been brought down from 8.5m to 5.5m due to hill blasting,” said an official.

First Published: Sep 06, 2018 02:32 IST