Mumbai: The long running effort to get Mumbai's second international airport project on track may bear fruit soon with the central government's ministry for environment and forests (MoEF) now retracting objections it had raised earlier, and granting it in-principle approval. The ministry had earlier withdrawn its approval, as a small portion of the land was protected by provisions of the Coastal Zone Regulations Act (CZR).
This had put the state government in a fix, for it had no alternative site to relocate the airport. It was also well ahead in its efforts to acquire land and appoint consultancies for the construction of the airport.
According to Maharashtra chief minister, Vilasrao Deshmukh, the MoEF provided an in-principle clearance on Wednesday asking the state government to provide certain clarifications. These, he said, would be submitted very soon.
The state government received a shock this year March when the MoEF withdrew its clearance for the site, located at Ulve near Panvel, on the grounds that around 115 hectares (7.3 per cent) of the total land was covered by mangroves. It recommended that the project be shifted to an alternative location.
The central civil aviation ministry and CIDCO, the nodal agency for the project, pointed out that nearly 78 per cent of the 2053 hectares of land required for the project had already been acquired, and also, that no alternative site was available.
CIDCO has now clarified that it will appoint agencies, such as IIT Bombay and Pune-based Central Water Research Station, to asses potential damage that the project may cause to the mangroves and suggest mitigation measures.