Government raps GVK consortium for slow progress on Mumbai airport modernisation

The union government has rapped Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL), the GVK-led consortium that runs Mumbai airport on the knuckles, over the delay of the Mumbai international airport project.

The company, in its defence, has blamed the encroachments around the airport for the delay. The civil aviation ministry says that notwithstanding this, the consortium could still have carried out significant amounts of work.

Interestingly, in a period of over 15 months MIAL has spent just Rs500 crore on the project, as against a budgeted Rs5,800 crore it is expected to invest over a period of four years, to bring the airport facilities to minimum international standards.

MIAL is a 74:26 joint venture between the GVK-SA Consortium and the Airports Authority of India (AAI), with the consortium managing the company. The contract was awarded to the company on 3 May 2006.

Government officials have specifically expressed concern over MIAL's inability to construct a third runway at the airport. The company, however, said that construction of a third runway is technically impossible. "As per the OMDA agreement, we were supposed to look into the possibility of making a third runway. But we don't think it is possible owing to scarcity of land," a MIAL spokesperson said.

International Civil Aviation Organisation (ICAO) guidelines say there should be a gap of 1,200 metres between the two parallel runways, which the company says will mean going beyond the boundary of the Mumbai airport.

At present, Mumbai airport has two runways that cross each other diagonally.