• Mumbai airport gets green nod for Rs 3,500 crore expansion plan

    The Mumbai airport has received environmental clearance for a Rs 3,500-crore expansion plan as well as shifting of the iconic air traffic control tower to Kalina as a long-term security strategy.

    The changes are set to take place over the next three years as the Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) expands to accommodate 50 million passengers by 2020. Interestingly, chief minister Devendra Fadnavis had said the first flight from the proposed Navi Mumbai airport will take off by 2019.

    Arguing its case before the Union environment ministry, MIAL, the consortium that operates the airport, said: “This is important as CSIA shall be required to serve the entire demand of Mumbai till the commencement of operations at the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport.”

    On the drawing board for CSIA is a new vehicle underpass below the secondary runway that will ferry passengers between the two terminals in less than 15 minutes. At present, traversing the 4km between the terminals takes up to 30 minutes. MIAL’s ambitious expansion project, which got the nod of the Expert Appraisal Committee of the Union ministry of environment and forests and climate change last month, will require around 20 acres of the 308 acres of encroached airport land. This includes six acres for a taxiway from the parking apron of Terminal T2 to the main runway and 9.04 acres for another taxiway expansion to enhance airside safety and efficiency, said an MIAL spokesperson. The balance 4.9 acres will be for facilities like radar, aircraft parking, aerobridge, etc.

    Though MIAL has obtained permission to shift the awardwinning Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT), the spokesperson said there were no immediate plans to relocate it. It was constructed around four years ago at acost of Rs 125 crore.

    “The current ATCT location is highly accessible from all sides. In view of threat perceptions of security agencies, MIAL is considering shifting the ATCT to a more secure location in the southern part of the airport as a long-term strategy. This project will be taken up for implementation only if advised by the security agencies after careful consideration of all aspects,” said a senior MIAL official.

    Another construction planed to enable more flights to take off is a bridge to connect the air craft parking apron of Terminal T2 to the taxiway leading to the main runway, creating additional holding area for aircraft ready for takeoff.

    The Mumbai Metropolitan Region Development Authority (MMRDA), which is the planning authority for the airport area, has identified slums in 11 priority areas that need to be shifted. The survey has been underway for one year despite severe opposition from local residents and political parties.

    The spokesperson said car go expansion work is already on. “It has been increased to 7.8 lakh metric tonnes and will be further expanded to one million metric tonnes. The expansion of the passenger terminals will require the relocation of slum dwellers. This will be done in accordance with the slum rehabilitation policy of the Maharashtra government for CSIA.”

    Residents of the surveyed slums will be relocated on the Premier Auto land at Kurla where around17,000 tenements have been constructed by HDIL in lieu of transfer of development rights to the tune of Rs 2,000 crore.

    MIAL refused to disclose how it proposes to develop the balance 288 acres of slum encroached land. CM Fadnavis has announced in situ rehabilitation while the previous Congress-led government had sanctioned a global floor space index of 1 for the entire airport land. The interim development plan approved for the airport notified area allows the non-aeronautical area to be used for hospitality, leisure, tourism and business activities. Riley Dixon Authentic Jersey

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