Six years after announcing plans for a new international airport at Navi Mumbai and clearing most environmental hurdles, City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) officials on Saturday said they might be forced to shift the multi-million dollar project to a different site if the villagers affected by the project refused to accept the compensation being offered to them.
However, days after talks between leaders of the Project Affected Persons (PAPs) and senior CIDCO officials fell through, officials of the public sector organisation sounded confident that they would be able to construct the second international airport in the Mumbai Metropolitan Region (MMR).
In fact, a senior official said they had already identified another spot for the airport in the MMR region just in case the PAPs did not budge from their position. CIDCO officials admit that the delay is hurting the project already, especially as the project has already received clearances from most concerned authorities. The Bombay High Court removed a major obstacle to the project recently when on October 29 this year it allowed the removal of mangroves from a particular area to facilitate the project.
CIDCO officials on Saturday claimed they had received 95 per cent clearances with regards to the Greenfield Navi Mumbai International Airport and the only bone of contention has been thecompensation, which the PAPs have not been agreeing to.
Managing Director (MD) of CIDCO Sanjay Bhatia said the compensation being offered to the PAPs was probably the best deal given in similar land acquisition cases anywhere in India. He added that CIDCO was extremely keen on coming up with an airport in the MMR come what may. “We do have an option with us of shifting the airport if required, but then we too understand that doing so would delay the project even further, which is surely something we do not want. However, after an extent we too cannot force the local farmers and land holders to give us their land,” said Bhatia, adding that he is hoping the farmers take a call on the matter as soon as possible.
While CIDCO is offering 22.5 per cent developed land for one hectare of land acquired, the PAPs want 35 per cent developed land. If sources are to be believed, then in the recent meeting with the senior CIDCO officials, PAP leaders demanded additional cash as well. “They have requested a meeting with the CM and this will take place shortly. They probably want to negotiate further. We too are looking to close the deal as we do not want the project to become unviable,” said CIDCO Joint Managing Director V Radha.