Mumbai’s choking air space will soon be eased up as the Minister Of Civil Aviation Jayant Sinha announced that the highly anticipated Navi Mumbai International Airport will be operational by the end of 2019. This announcement comes admist various speculations and anxious wait amongst Mumbaikars.
This airport is expected to give a major boost to the real estate sector which has already shown around the time the airport site was finalized. The land Many small and big investors have already acquired properties in the airport vicinity on the promise of the airport. Developers, high-networth investors, land speculators and real estate agents are buying up plots in bits and pieces from the locals. They expect a huge property boom and a subsequent rocketing of land prices once the airport comes up in a few years. It is said that in this region, each acre commands an eye-popping Rs 20 crore (over Rs 60,000 a sq m), said local property market sources.
But Sanjay Bhatia, chief of the local town planning agency, Cidco, pegged the selling rate at below Rs 10 crore an acre. “However, we expect the plot rate to more than double to Rs 1.5 lakh per sq m (Rs 60 crore per acre) when the airport becomes operational,” he told TOI.
“Builders are slowly taking over. They have realized the future development potential of this zone,” said Navi Mumbai property developer Manohar Shroff. Almost all 3,000 project-affected families have accepted the compensation package offered by the state government and have started signing agreements, said a CIDCO official.
This will be supported by the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link which is also expected to be completed by 2019-2020. This link road will connect the Navi Mumbai Airport region directly with Sewree near South Mumbai.
Despite of all the hype and anticipations, this project has seemed to drag on forever owing especially to the green clearances. Considering the geography of the chosen site, the green clearance was always going to be the hardest. The project area covers a little over 250ha of forest land-141.5ha of reserved forest and 108.6ha of deemed forest (mangrove). When the Stage 1 clearance came, it laid out 35 steps to be complied with by Cidco and the state government, including transfer of 242ha of revenue land to the forest department for compensatory afforestation. Handing over of the Sudhagad plot, assurances to plant three times the mangroves in the acquired area, and the precautionary steps promised while diverting the rivers impressed the MoEF officials on Tuesday morning. Mangrove plantation has already begun at Kolikhar village near Kamothe in Navi Mumbai.
However, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests was impressed with CIDCOs presentation earlier this month and finally gave the final nod to the project. The Forest Advisory Committee of the environment ministry in Delhi gave the nod impressed with a presentation made by CIDCO, the nodal authority, on compliance with the 35 conditions the ministry had laid down while giving its first clearance in 2013. It included handing over a 242-hectare green patch at Sudhagad near Khopoli in compensation against acquisition of around 250 hectare of deemed forest area for the greenfield airport.
Work on the ground-starting from pre-development measures such as land reclamation or cutting of hills, shifting of the extra high voltage transmission (EHVT) lines that supply power to Mumbai, diversion of the Ulve and Gadhi rivers and creation of a mangrove lagoon-can start in a couple of months. The work orders for these undertakings have been issued.
The Navi Mumbai International Airport is proposed to be developed through public-private participation by setting-up a special purpose vehicle with equity contribution from Cidco, AAI and the developer. The project monitoring and implementation committee, chaired by the state chief secretary, is made up of senior officials from state and Centre, including the civil aviation ministry.
The airport, accorded in-principle approval in 2007, is being developed as the second international airport for the Mumbai Metropolitan Region, on the lines of multiple airports for the mega cities of the world. It will function alongside the Santacruz airport and will make up India’s first urban multi-airport system.
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Sources: Various news agencies and internet. All pictures are copyright of their publishers.