Completely ignoring how Hurricane Katrina devastated New Orleans and the Ganges, Bihar, the city makers want to change the course of two rivers and reclaim an island to construct the proposed airport. And it is the fear of the subsequent nature’s calamities that may indefinitely stall the plans of the airport. What is common between Hurricane Katrina in News Orleans and the floods in Bihar besides its devastating aspect? Well, both the city faced the wrath of changing the course of river by civil engineering techniques. Years of natural-resource exploitation and modifications to the flow of the Mississippi River cost the America – Hurricane Katrina and back home, when we tried to train the tame the river in the north including the Ganges, it cost us the Bihar floods. But despite these devastating natural calamities; CIDCO wants to change the course of two rivers, the Ulwe and the Gadhi, and reclaim an island called Waghivli to construct the proposed Navi Mumbai International Airport. CIDCO management confirms that the course of the Ulwe and the Gadhi would have to be altered significantly. And embankments would have to be constructed on the three other rivers-the Kasadi, the Kalundri and the Taloja-flowing through the region. When we discussed with CIDCO Managing Director whether the state was not taking a cue from the devastating impact of changing the course of River Mississippi in America and the Ganges in India, he said that the river will be re-trained with utmost care. To divert Ulwe River, CIDCO will have to cut a hillock and construct a tunnel to create a channel for the Ulwe. CIDCO has asked the CWPRS – that is the Central Water and Power Research Station to study how the five rivers can affect the airport. But environmentalists feel there is a high possibility of the tunnel eventually getting blocked and causing floods and institutes like CWPRS studies have faltered in the past. And it’s not just 5 rivers but CIDCO will also have to reclaim Waghivli – an island that will have to be reclaimed and leveled. Earlier this year, the Union Ministry of Environment and Forests turned down the Airport Project as it involved massive massacre of mangroves. This had prompted Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh to write to Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. With so many environment obstacles, it is finally dawning upon CIDCO that it cannot meet the 2012 deadline. Which is evident from the fact that where earlier CIDCO claimed it would meet the 2012 deadline. Now CIDCO is retracting from the same 2012 promise. The difference in the replies of CIDCO MD and Jt. MD hint that all is not well with the Navi Mumbai airport plan that will cost over Rs. 10, 000 Crore and has been on the planning board for over a decade. And now, with the fears of natural calamities that loom over the ambitious project, looks like the Navi Mumbai airport plan may be installed indefinitely. If you live in Panvel and don’t know how to swim, now might be a good time to learn. Because the latest from CIDCO to have the Navi Mumbai Airport made is even more disturbing. The city makers want to change the course of 5 rivers failing to understand that whatever be the technology or how much ever intelligent the human brain is, it can never win against brutal fury of nature. The hurricanes in America and floods in Bihar, Orissa and Assam should be a lesson – else we too will learn the deadly hazard of playing childishly with the rivers the hard way.
October 8, 2017
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