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Navi Mumbai airport plan tweaked on green concerns

Mumbai, Oct 23 (IANS) The Maharashtra government Friday made minor changes in the design of the proposed international airport at Navi Mumbai, keeping in view the objections raised by the environment ministry that had raised concerns about possible loss of mangrove forests.

This was conveyed to the central government appointed 13-member Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), headed by Naresh Dayal, which visited the proposed site near Panvel and later called on Chief Minister Ashok Chavan.

‘Instead of making any construction in the mangrove forest present at the site, it will be converted into an international mangrove park,’ a statement by the state-run City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) said.

Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had earlier expressed concern that the airport would result in the loss of 400 acres of mangrove forests.

CIDCO has also reduced the distance between the two runways at the proposed airport by 300 metres to ensure that the two small rivers at the site are not diverted.

However, the government has kept silent on Ramesh’s final objection to the project – that it would lead to the blasting of a 80 metre-high hill which falls in the path of the runway.

Chavan said that the Navi Mumbai site was selected by the state government due to its proximity to Mumbai, the congestion at the existing airport and phenomenal increase in passenger traffic.

Chavan also pointed out that it was imperative that the environment ministry not delay clearances any further, keeping in view escalating costs and absence of an alternative site.

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