• Groundwork for Rs 16,500-crore Navi Mumbai airport to take off next month

    Work on construction of the Navi Mumbai international airport (NMIA) is set to start next month, almost two decades after a second international airport for Mumbai was proposed. The state government wants Prime Minister Narendra Modi to perform the bhoomi pujan for the Rs 16,500 crore project in the last week of October.

    According to sources, Cidco, the nodal authority, has made a proposal to this effect and the Devendra Fadnavis government is trying to ensure Modi’s presence for the inauguration of the project that has been bedevilled by various issues — from villagers’ protests over compensation to a plethora of clearances.

    In mid-October, work will start on mobilizing resources, men, material and machinery for the cutting of the Ulwe hill and diversion of the Ulwe river. But the actual infrastructure work will start only after the bhoomi puja, a Cidco official said.

    The hill cutting and river diversion will be a major part of the Rs 4500-5000 crore first phase of the airport development by a strategic partner — the financial bid for strategic partner is in the final stages. The other work that will be part of the first phase is the construction of the runways, terminal building, ATC and hangars.

    The infrastructure work will be videographed and archived, officials said.

    The stage II of forest clearance from the Union ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) paving the way for the airport development work in the core areas is expected soon.

    The story of the dream project traces way back to 1997 when the civil aviation ministry constituted a committee to examine various sites for a second international airport for Mumbai. In May 2009, the MoEF issued notification for amending the CRZ notification of 1991 permitting greenfield airport at Navi Mumbai in CRZ areas, subject to environmental safeguards. Doug Baldwin Jersey

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