Navi Mumbai airport clearance likely by November

Navi Mumbai airport clearance likely by November

New Delhi: Environmental clearance to the much-delayed Navi Mumbai airport project is likely to be granted by next month as necessary changes have been made in the project plan to address ecological concerns, civil aviation minister Praful Patel said on Wednesday.

“The Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) of the environment ministry is at the site...There should be an early resolution to the issue. Hopefully, environmental clearance should be granted by next month," he said on the sidelines of a seminar organised by the Air Traffic Controllers Guild (India) here.

While the site of the airport and the runway remains the same, “changes have been made to some extent in the (civil side) design and the work being done by the (project promoter) CIDCO," he said.

Patel said, “This matter cannot be left to linger for long" as it was seriously affecting the growing air traffic in the financial capital of Mumbai.

The existing Mumbai airport, where additional flights are now being restricted due to saturation, is slated to exhaust its capacity of handling 40 million passengers a year by 2013.

Hence there was an urgent need to construct the new airport at Navi Mumbai, the proposal for which was approved by the Union Cabinet way back in May 2007.

Earlier this month, environment minister Jairam Ramesh had said a “compromise formula" had been worked out with the civil aviation ministry.

Under the “formula", the airport site would not be changed, but the location of non-aeronautical assets like hotels and shopping areas are likely to be shifted.

This would be done to ensure that there is minimum damage to the 400 acres of mangroves and some hillocks in the area and two rivers -- Ulwe and Gadhi -- are not diverted.

The high-level EAC team today went to the site for a spot study.

With Prime Minister’s Office closely monitoring the progress in building the second airport in Mumbai, the report of the EAC, which will study whether green concerns are being taken care of, will be crucial for deciding the fate of the project.