Mumbai: After years of uncertainty, the Union Environment and Forest Ministry on Monday gave full clearance for the construction of a new international airport in Navi Mumbai – aimed to decongest the choked Chatrapati Shivaji International Airport.
The announcement was made by Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh accompanied by Maharashtra Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan and Union Civil Aviation minister Prafful Patel in a press conference here.
Announcing the decision, Ramesh said, “The Ministry of Environment and Forests has given full clearance for the construction of an ecologically sound, energy efficient internationally level airport in Navi Mumbai, which will be equipped with the state-of-the art technology. The clearance has been given following assurances from the state government of Maharashtra and the Civil Aviation Ministry for the adequate and immediate reddressal of over 32 conditions laid down by us as a prerequisite for the construction of the airport in Navi Mumbai.”
“The construction can start today,” Ramesh told a visibly elated audience.
The new airport is considered as very crucial for the economy of Mumbai and Maharashtra as a whole as the lack of space in the existing airport had come to be recognised as a great impediment in the future growth of the commercial capital of India.
The site for the project has been the subject of intense debate because of environmental concerns. The Environment Ministry had opposed destruction of a large area of mangroves, diversion of two rivers in the area and the flattening of a hillock to make way for the runway.
However, the Environment Ministry’s Expert Advisory Committee (EAC) had, last week, recommended that the proposal be cleared. The EAC recommendation followed a series of assurances given by project developer CIDCO (City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra) to make certain design changes and implement other suggestions to minimise the environmental impact.
After the governmental clearance to the project, the bidding process for the construction of Navi Mumbai airport is expected to begin by the year–end.
He said the bidding process and all the legal and financial aspects of the project would be in the public- private partnership pattern followed for airports in Delhi, Mumbai, Hyderabad and Bangalore.