Navi Mumbai airport plan to be tweaked

The proposed Rs9,700-crore new airport at Navi Mumbai moved a step forward with the Maharashtra government saying that it is ready to tweak the project plan in order to address environmental concerns.

The environment and forests ministry (MoEF) headed by Jairam Ramesh had opposed the airport project that covers over 2,500 acres in Navi Mumbai because it involves destruction of over 400 acres of mangroves, altering the course of two rivers, and flattening of a green hillock.

The environment ministry is unhappy since it feels that the project developer, City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) is not heeding to its concerns.

The Maharashtra government has now indicated that it is willing to go the extra mile with the MoEF to preserve the ecology of that region by agreeing to relocate the non-aeronautical components of the project, like five star hotels, shopping malls, convention centres and golf course away from the proposed airport site.

''We are carefully studying if we can shift or diminish the land earmarked there for non-aeronautical purposes,'' said principal secretary to the state urban development department T C Benjamin.

The Maharashtra government has now identified a couple of sites for developing these non-aeronautical components so that nearly 400 acres of mangrove forest is left undisturbed in order to minimise environmental damage.