Even as Chief Minister Ashok Chavan travelled to Delhi this week to lobby for the clearance of the Navi Mumbai Airport Project, an unrelenting Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh said there were serious ecological problems with the project that could not be overlooked. The Minister raised the same environmental concerns that your channel has been raising for several years now. NMTV News has always been reporting on how the making of the Intl. Airport in Navi Mumbai would spell doom for environment. The Union Environment Ministry echoed the same concerns in July 2009 asking Maharashtra state to look for another site for the International Airport. The Ministry had said that 150 hectares of mangrove land, 340 hectares of coastal marshy land, including 118 hectares of water bodies cannot be compensated. He had pointed out that in 9 out of 10 cases, getting an alternative site is possible. And even today the Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh is in no mood to budge from his stance of not compromising with the environment. Eminent scientists have warned of the grave danger that the second airport project poses at the site and that the site is of great ecological value and should not be harmed – something that even NMTV News has been reporting religiously. 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. In the past locals of the area have voiced concern that if the airport was built here, the area would submerge under water. These objections were also raised during the public hearings and were documented in the report sent to the Union Environment Ministry. This became proof that the environment damage at the present site is grave in nature. That is why the Union Environment Ministry once again delayed the clearance for the project compelling the Chief Minister Ashok Chavan to fly to Delhi to meet Jairam Ramesh. The Chief Minister Ashok Chavan had a detailed meeting with Jairam Ramesh, during which he tried to convince him of the necessity of going ahead with the project. Ashok Chavan is learnt to have told him relocating was not feasible as that would involve fresh land acquisition and take a long time. On the other hand, about 80 per cent of land for the current project had already been acquired by the state. The Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh refused to give any assurance saying that a decision on the project would depend on the advice of the expert group to examine the environmental impact assessment report later this month on July 21 and 22. While on the other hand, ignoring all ecological dangers, Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel had blamed the Environment Ministry for delaying the Navi Mumbai Airport. Jairam Ramesh also brushed aside criticism from his Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel who had blamed the Environment ministry for delaying the crucial project. Now, with floods sweeping away Punjab, Haryana and Himachal Pradesh as most of the green land were cleared for SEZ and other commercial developments, the level of damage to crops, human life and property is beyond count. To save Navi Mumbai and specifically Panvel from such disasters and calamities, environmentalists are welcoming the stance of Union Environment minister Jairam Ramesh as it is the only hope to save Navi Mumbai from an ecological doom that an airport is sure to bring. With bureau inputs – Sana Warsia for NMTV News.
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