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Navi Mumbai airport to cause environmental damage: Ramesh

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh on Saturday disfavoured the proposed Navi Mumbai Airport saying it would have serious environmental implication and suggested an alternative site for the second airport in Mumbai.



Mumbai: Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh
on Saturday disfavoured the proposed Navi Mumbai Airport saying it
would have serious environmental implication and suggested an
alternative site for the second airport in Mumbai.

He said the proposed airport construction in Navi Mumbai
will have serious environmental implication and flooding of
Panvel town could be one among them.
"Mumbai needs a second airport. But where that airport
should be located is a matter that has to be decided coolly,
dispassionately, taking into account all environmental
matters," Ramesh told reporters here while explaining the
steps taken by the ministry on the environmental damages
caused by the oil spill off the Mumbai Coast.

Strongly refuting the charge that he was stalling the
development of the city, the Minister said environmental
approval is not a mere formality.

"I have no problem with Navi Mumbai. I am not to stall
any development. But we cannot ignore environmental issues.
Environmental clearance is not a formality. It has to be gone
through (sic)," Ramesh said.

Coastal Regulation Zone (CRZ) 1991 did not allow building
of an airport in Navi Mumbai. Though it was amended in 2009,
it was not to build an airport in Navi Mumbai, he said.
"Please note that CRZ `91 was amended to make
constructing an airport in Navi Mumbai a permissible activity
subject to neutralisation measures being undertaken," Ramesh
said.

Ramesh said three MPs from nearby Thane District had met
him on August 13 with an application to move the new airport
to Kalyan.

"The MPs told me that 1,800 acres of land, available near
Kalyan which is now in the possession of the defence
establishment, can be used for the second airport instead of
Navi Mumbai. I have passed all those papers to the Expert
Appraisal Committee (EAC) for Infrastructure," he said.

The Minister said there are three major environmental
issues regarding the proposed Navi Mumbai Airport site, with
diversion of two rivers being the most serious issue.

"Diversion of the rivers is the most serious issue. We
all know what happened to Mithi. In case of a flooding or
monsoon, what will happen to Panvel town..?" he said. The loss
of 400 acres of mangroves and the blasting of a hill 80metre
above sea level are the two other serious issues, Ramesh said.

Recently, IIT-Mumbai had done a study on environmental
implications of the construction of the new airport and
submitted their findings to EAC. On the basis of that study,
EAC sought clarifications from CIDCO, the developing agency.
"CIDO representatives are asked to clarify the issues
raised by EAC on August 18 meeting. If these issues can be
resolved, then I will examine the recommendations of EAC,"
Ramesh said.

To a query, Ramesh said the Expert Committee of Airport
Authority of India (AAI) had found Rewas-Mandwa as the best
site for a second airport in 1996. But later in 2000,
following a recommendation from Maharashtra government, AAI
selected Navi Mumbai for the second airport.

"I have no problem with that. But I cannot give
environmental clearance with good conscience until and unless
all the major concerns are resolved. I conveyed these factors
to the Civil Aviation Minister (Praful Patel) and the Chief
Minister. They are also concerned," Ramesh said.

PTI

From Zee News

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