Pressure mounts on Ramesh to clear Navi Mumbai airport

Pressure is mounting on the union government to clear the proposed airport at Navi Mumbai, with the prime minister's office itself reportedly in favour of Mumbai's second international airport. Maharashtra's Democratic Front government took its battle for the airport to prime minister Manmohan Singh early this week.

Leading the mission is chief minister Ashok Chavan, who is determined that the airport at Navi Mumbai comes up in the stipulated time frame. Chavan said, ''If the project gets clearance in a couple of months, we can still meet the first phase deadline of 2014.''

The Navi Mumbai airport project, estimated to cost Rs9,970 crore, is to be completed in four phases, and will include two 4,500 metre runways a kilometre apart.

The target is to tap 10 million passengers at the end of the first phase. The next three phases - to be completed in 2018, 2023 and 2028 - is expected to service 50 million passengers.

The biggest hurdle for the state is the negative response from union minister for environment Jairam Ramesh, who doesn't want to compromise on green violations for the airport.

According to a DNA report, highly placed sources in chief minister's office revealed, ''Preliminary discussions clearly point to the prime minister's office being positive about the Navi Mumbai project.'' The state government also intends to discuss the airport plans with Ramesh when he arrives in Mumbai next week.