The civil aviation ministry is speeding up the process of securing approval from other ministries for the Navi Mumbai International Airport. Mumbai needs a new airport to accommodate passenger traffic that has been increasing at the rate of 23% a year. In the 11 months to 28 February, Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) handled over 20 million passengers.
Last week, the civil aviation ministry circulated the draft-cabinet note on the creation of the airport to the ministries of defence, finance, and environment. “It (the final proposal) is expected to be presented to the cabinet next month,” an official at the civil aviation ministry said on condition of anonymity.
The other ministries will provide their inputs on the note within the next two weeks, and after their suggestions are incorporated, the civil aviation ministry willapproach the cabinet for its approval.
The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) has already given its approval to the project, which is expected to be completed by 2013.
Despite the ongoing modernization, CSIA provides limited scope for expansion. It has just enough room to accommodate around 40 million passengers. Estimates suggest that Mumbai will handle around 91 million passengers by 2030-31. The Navi Mumbai International Airport will handle 10 million passengers annually when it becomes operational; by 2030, this number will grow to 40 million.
Deepak Kapoor, the joint managing director of City Industrial and Development Corporation (Cidco) of Maharashtra, said the new airport would be profitable and return at least 14.68% on the total investment. The Airports Authority of India and Cidco will hold a 26% stake in the project; a private firm will hold the rest. With 77% of about 2,553 hectares land required to build the airport already owned by Cidco and the state government, Kapoor said, the construction work can start as soon as the private bidder is selected in the middle of 2008.
Much of the other 23% of the land is held privately; Cidco has already written to the district collector of Raigarh, under whose administration the land falls, for acquiring it.
The former deputy director of the Directorate General of Civil Aviation, the sector’s regulator, said that with aviation congestion set to become “alarming” in the next five years the new airport was crucial for Mumbai. “They are late by seven years already but in a hurry they should not avoid public and environmental issues like noise pollution in the master plan,” he added.