MUMBAI: Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA), the first green-field international airport of the country is not just going to miss the deadline, but the work is unlikely to be finished within next two years, officials have said.
According to the original plan the government had announced that the first flight from the airport will take off in December 2020. However, acording to officials, while the reluctance of the project-affected people to vacate the land required for construction of the airstrip has stalled the work on one hand, the economic slowdown too is adversely affecting the project.
According to Lokesh Chandra, MD of state-owned City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), which is the nodal agency for the airport project, one of the hillocks has been cut to size and that has also led to requisite levelling of the landscape. However, the actual construction of runway and other buildings for the airport is yet to begin and this will lead to delay of the project.
The airport in Navi Mumbai was envisaged by the-then Shiv Sena-BJP state government in late 1990s. However, the environmental and other clearances caused a major delay. During the Fadnavis government, the issues of the overloaded Mumbai’s Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) was highlighted and the central government put the project on priority basis.
PM Modi laid the corner stone of the project earlier this year. However, the process of acquisition of 671 hectare land from 10 villages is yet to complete. While the entire project requires 2,268 hectare land, and much of is it government land, the crucial 671 hectare land is required for runways.
While the project-affected people had accepted the compensation package offered by the CIDCO, they refused to vacate the land after they realized that the alternative land being offered is not developed and would need a long time for that. Three more villages too were added to the lot later increasing the land requirement for resettlement of the project-affected people.
To add to the woes, though the levelling of around 1,160 hectare out of total 2,268 hectare land is complete, the contractors haven’t initiated work on construction of runways and terminal buildings. As financial reasons are being cited for the delay, officials have said that it may lead to a delay of up to two more years.