Navi Mumbai Airport update
The Navi Mumbai airport could take as much as the year-end to get cleared, with the City Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) of Mumbai unable to meet the regulations and requirements of the Union environment and forest ministry (MoEF) even after a submitting a fresh plan. The minutes of the last meeting, the MoEF’s expert appraisal committee, held on September 22, show that the project developers were unable to satisfy the Centre that it was willing to do everything possible to reduce the damage that the second international airport could cause. In fact, the EAC pointed out several lacunae in Cidco’s resubmitted plans as well as pointed out to erroneous data and facts that made up the environmental impact assessment (EIA) report, submitted along with the particular proposal. The EAC has now asked for a detailed study to evaluate the costs and impact of reducing the distance between the two runways, which is at present, greater than the minimum required. The committee also wants the study to evaluate the redesigning of terminals and shifting the non-operational activities to the south side of the airport, away from the sea front. The MoEF committee is keen that the hotels and other non-essential commercial activities be shifted away from the coastal zone, which Cidco has also opposed so far. Another point of contention between the Centre and Cidco is the diversion of Ulwe River. While Cidco does not want to avoid the river diversion that is illegal under current rules, owing to the cost escalation it would lead to, the MoEF would find it extremely difficult to bend rules for the plan.