ISSN (Print) - 0012-9976 | ISSN (Online) - 2349-8846

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The Plane Truth

The shift of focus from a shared vision of a planned metropolitan region to development for financial profit underlies the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra's insistence on the controversial Panvel site for the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport. The Environmental Impact Assessment report proceeds on two a priori assumptions: that the existing Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport at Santa Cruz/Sahar is incapable of future expansion or development; and that there is no other viable site. In the bargain, it concedes that the site is fraught with environmental and legal issues, but claims these to be insignificant.

At the time of this article going to press, the location of an alternative site for Mumbai’s second airport is still in doubt and the subject of a heated tussle between the central government’s Ministry of Environment and Forests (MEF) and the project proponents, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO). The MEF’s Environmental Appraisal Committee (EAC) has asked C IDCO to explain the rejection by one of its consultants of every one of the 16 alternative sites originally under consideration. The EAC plans to visit these alternative sites.

When Mumbai’s present airport was built at Vile Parle/Santa Cruz in the 1940s, land was plentiful and cheap. The site was, at the time, very far from the city. Later, a smaller second airport was built at Juhu. This was used mainly by the Flying Club, which has now been driven away to Dhule, and Juhu is mainly used for helicopter operations (though there was one memorable occasion when the pilot of a Douglas DC-8 landed at Juhu, mistaking it for Santa Cruz).

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