air-port1NMTV News has always been reporting on how the making of the Intl. Airport in Navi Mumbai would spell doom for environment. This week the Union Environment Ministry echoed the same concerns asking Maharashtra state to look for another site for the International Airport. The Ministry has said that 150 hectares of mangrove land, 340 hectares of coastal marshy land, including 118 hectares of water bodies cannot be compensated. The Maharashtra state never got the Environment Ministry’s clearance for despite Chief Minister Ashok Chavan publicly announcing this – not once but twice – including in front of Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh. This is Chief Minister Ashok Chavan addressing a gathering of industrialists and businessmen during Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh’s visit to Mumbai prior to Lok Sabha elections. And this is Chief Minister Ashok Chavan addressing the state assembly during the state budget session this month. On both the occasions, the Chief Minister Ashok Chavan was definitely not speaking the truth. What else can explain the latest scathing letter from Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh to Maharashtra Chief Minister Ashok Chavan suggesting that the state should look for another site for a second international airport for the country’s financial capital? The letter from the Environment Minister points out that the chosen site includes 150 hectares of mangrove land and 340 hectares of coastal marshy land, including 118 hectares of water bodies. The Union Minister has made it clear that unlike the proposal the Maharashtra government have mooted, the original mangroves are irreplaceable and no compensatory afforestation is possible. Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh has written to the CM pointing out that 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 the greens have been saying for years. Environmentalist Debi Goenka informed us that the project had never got the environment clearance and the media reports about the claims were misleading. For the construction of the Navi Mumbai International Airport – the course of two rivers, Ulwe and Gadhi, were to be changed and embankments constructed for three rivers- Kusadi, Kalundri and Taloja Waghivli island was to be reclaimed for the airport and two hills had to be flattened. Locals of the area spoke to NMTV News of how the area would go under water if the airport was built there. The Navi Mumbai Intl. Airport was to stand at 20.53 sq km at the cost of Rs 9,000 Crore. The delay in the project will shoot up the cost further. Moreover, unlike the claims of Chief Minister Ashok Chavan, it isn’t just the go-ahead of Environment Ministry but several other clearances that are yet to be obtained for the Navi Mumbai Intl. Airport. So even as the state government planned that the project would take off soon and operations at the Navi Mumbai International would begin 2013, the letter from the Union Environment Minister could abort the plans of the take off indefinitely. With all the global warming effects, if rivers are filled and massive mangroves stretch destroyed for the Navi Mumbai Intl Airport, flooding will be a common occurrence. Something that even the Union Environment Ministry is accepting now. This decision of the Environment Ministry could save the city from a disaster that can cause loss to life and property beyond imagination. Many politicians and selfish builders were trying to cash on the false claims being made about the airport getting the Center’s clearance but truth is that it’s a crash landing for the Navi Mumbai Intl Airport. With cameraperson Abhay Prasad, Zeba Warsia for Navi Mumbai News.

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