New Delhi: As Maharashtra Government continues to push for airport at Navi Mumbai, Environment Ministry has asked it to re-examine three alternative sites in the state with equal "interest.”
An Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC) under the Ministry at a meeting last month asked the state authorities "to re-examine in detail the four sites including Navi Mumbai with equal weightage on 0 to 100 scale including the financial implications for cutting, diversion and training of rivers."
The other three sites are in Wada, Ansoli and Kalyan. It has also sought details on rehabilitation of the population and also the status of land acquisition or possession by government and private land in these sites.
The central government panel members would soon hold a meeting in Mumbai and undertake the visit of the short-listed sites to explore the possibility of setting up the new international airport at one of these places.
The Environment Ministry and the state government are at loggerheads over the project with the former refusing to give it a go ahead citing threat to ecology.
The state government has maintained that it was urgently needed to meet the increasing air traffic. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday assured a Maharashtra Congress delegation led by Chief Minister Ashok Chavan that he would personally look into the issue to resolve it at the earliest.
Of the 17 sites including Navi Mumbai identified by City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (CIDCO), 11 were rejected due to "topography and technical problems".
However, the EAC said "while short-listing six sites, no equal weightage or criteria had been given to every alternative site and they were rejected due to one or the other reason except the Navi Mumbai site."
An EAC member said, "the state government needs to look other sites with equal interest as is being shown in the case of Navi Mumbai site."
Among the three other sites for which the EAC panel has sought a re-look, but was rejected by CIDCO, is Wada which is 95 km from Mumbai airport and is accessible by the Ahmedabad and Agra highways.
The other sites are Ansoli, located between Bhiwandi-Wada Road and Tansa water pipeline and which is 70 km from Mumbai airport, and Kalyan which is dotted with several towns and was found unacceptable owing to presence of a BARC facility and Defence land.
On Navi Mumbai site, while expressing its reservation due to the existence two hillocks on the proposed runways which may pose significant safety hazard, the Committee has also asked the authorities about its impact on the nearby locality as well Karnala bird sanctuary.