India’s Union Ministry of Environment gave the state authority final clearance to build the long-awaited Navi Mumbai airport project, about 20 kilometers from the city.
This will be city’s second international airport.
The new greenfield facility, currently estimated to cost more than $2 billion, will complement both cargo and passenger traffic moving through the existing Mumbai International Airport, which is facing severe capacity constraints.
“This project is very important for civil aviation growth of the country and the economy of the Maharashtra State,” said India’s civil aviation minister Praful Patel. “The ministry was very concerned about the lack of facilities at the Mumbai Airport. There were difficulties in expanding the current airport of Mumbai.”
Planned as a public-private partnership, the government is expected to allow a 74 percent private participation in the project with the remainder equally divided between state-owned Airports Authority of India and local state agencies.
Officials said the project will be developed on 2,866 acres and the first phase is scheduled for completion in 2015-16. It will have two runways with independent operations and full-length taxiways capable of handling large aircraft such as Airbus 380.
The project hit a roadblock after the Ministry of Environment and Forest raised serious concerns over potential destruction of mangroves in and around the proposed site. “The ministry’s concerns have been sorted out fully with state authorities agreeing to develop a 678-hectare mangrove habitat outside the airport area,” said Jairam Ramesh, minister for environment, announcing the approval.
According to official estimates, the new airport is expected to handle 10 million passengers in its first year of operations, doubling it to 20 million over the next eight years. The existing Mumbai airport is likely to reach its saturation point by 2013 with a projected traffic of 40 million passengers.