New Delhi: In yet another scathing attack on his colleague, Environment Minister of State Jairam Ramesh, Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patesl has slammed the Environment Ministry for the delay in approving the Navi Mumbai Airport.
“We can't be overly obsessive about environmental issues..we can't give priority to 50-100 acres of degradation over a large infrastructure project,” Patel told a TV channel when asked about the delay in the project.
Patel said the existing Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is running full capacity and can not accommodate more traffic. The proposed airport is 35 kms from the existing one.
"I am equally concerned and passionate about environment...(but) the Mumbai airport is at a stage when it cannot handle more traffic," Patel said.
The Environment Ministry has objected to the land being used, citing danger to Mangrove forest and two rivers in the area, apart from relocation of population issues.
"There were a lot of infirmities during the public hearing. We have asked the government to go through Coastal Regula-tory Zone [CRZ] clearances," said Ramesh had said on Monday.
IIT-Bangalore had studied the issue in detail and the report has been sent to the Maharashtra government.
"Till we are convinced that mangroves will not be cut, we can’t build the airport," Ramesh said, adding that the state government should look at its neighbour Gujarat which had preserved its mangroves without stopping development projects.
Ramesh has time and again come in the crosshairs of ministers including Kapil Sibal, Praful Patel, Kamal Nath and P Chodambaram on issues ranging from environment to foreign investment to mining rights etc.
Navi Mumbai International Airport will support the rapidly growing air travel needs of Mumbai Metropolitan Region. It is expected to absorb annually 10 million passengers in its first operational year 2012, doubling to 20 million by 2020 followed by 30 million passengers in 2025 and ultimately 40 million by 2030.
It is slated to become operational by 2012-13.
First Published: Friday, July 02, 2010, 20:18