The Union Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee visit to Navi Mumbai Intl’ Airport site has concluded. The team will now submit its report to Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh. However if insiders are to be believed, then the report is a mere formality. Bureaucracy and politics are going to have its way as the Union Environment Ministry is likely to give its green signal to the airport in Navi Mumbai soon. And if Jairam Ramesh does give his consent to the project, it is bound to spell doom for environment and locals living in and around Panvel. These are the villagers of Wagivli Island that is a part of the area demarcated for the Navi Mumbai Intl’ Airport. The Union Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee might be a team of intelligent brains whose opinions count as expert opinion, but if you ask us – these villagers who know their land in and out are the real experts who know what will happen if the Navi Mumbai Intl’ Airport comes at its present chosen site in Navi Mumbai. And their expert opinion is that – the entire area surrounding the site will be submerged under water with frequent flooding if the Navi Mumbai airport is built here. However, there voices might just be silenced and bureaucracy and politics will have its way. Atleast that is what seems to be most probable after the Union Environment Ministry’s Expert Appraisal Committee visit to Navi Mumbai Intl’ Airport site this week. The committee headed by Chairman Naresh Dayal and the Vice Chairman Dr. M I Sharma surveyed the site with officiating MD of CIDCO Tanaji Satre and others. Following this there were several closed door meetings between the two sides. The EAC chose to maintain suspense over their observations after the visit to the site though the Chairman of the Expert Appraisal Committee Naresh Dayal did hint at working out a positive solution though he assured that they are going to keep in mind the environment. However, soon after the visit of the expert committee, positive feelers were sent from the Union Environment Ministry so much so that Union Aviation Minister Praful Patel voiced confidence of getting the environment clearance to the Navi Mumbai airport project as early as November. Reliable sources reveal that the “compromise formula” between the two Union Ministers have been worked out already. This is one of the reasons why the Union Environment Ministry that had instructed CIDCO to re-survey the other sites in Kalyan for the airport has taken a U Turn and is not speaking about this anymore. So, in all its probability bureaucracy and politics might just have its way again and environment destruction is bound to happen. This is because for the construction of the Navi Mumbai International Airport – the course of two rivers, Ulwe and Gadhi, are to be changed and embankments have to constructed for three rivers – Kusadi, Kalundri and Taloja. Besides this the state will also have to reclaim Waghivli Island and two hills have to be flattened. Looks like we have not learnt any lesson from the floods that swept away Pakistan and other parts of the world where thousands of lives and properties have been destroyed. Bureaucracy and politics continue to give way to selfish interest at the cost of environmental. If Jairam Ramesh gives his nod to the Navi Mumbai airport, which he probably will if feelers are read, then it will be the greatest environmental blunder making an ecological doom and disastrous flooding inevitable in Panvel and nearby areas. With bureau inputs – Sana Warsia for NMTV News.
November 30, 2018