Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has asked the Maharashtra government to do its bit for the expansion of the existing domestic terminal, while assuring chief minister Ashok Chavan of progress on the Navi Mumbai airport project. Sources at Mantralaya inform that the prime minister also sought to know the progress on rehabilitation of slums that smother Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport. Around 80,000 odd shanties occupying 276 acres around CSIA have held up the expansion and modernisation of the airport. The state government and civil aviation ministry have claimed that CSIA would run out of its capacity to handle passenger and cargo traffic by 2013. This argument is also being used by the state to make a strong case for a second airport at Navi Mumbai. State government officials, however, say that the environment and forests ministry briefed the prime minister on the slow work by the state on slum rehabilitation at CSIA. Prime Minister Manmohan Singh then asked the Maharashtra government to do its bit for the expansion of the existing domestic terminal, while assuring chief minister Ashok Chavan of progress on the Navi Mumbai airport project. Even environmentalist have expressed that if the existing airport is expanded by removing the illegal slums, then there might not be a need of a second airport. An Airport Authority of India official also confirmed that both the civil aviation ministry and the PMO were unsatisfied with the state’s approach towards CSIA expansion. MIAL has pointed out in its master plan that the CSIA would be able to raise its capacity to 40 million passengers in 2012-13 from 25 million today only if the surrounding land was cleared of slums by 2010. But so far, only 8000 shanties have been resettled. Environment ministry’s expert appraisal committee on coastal regulation is set to hold a meeting with CIDCO and its consultant, IIT Mumbai, later this month to discuss the possible changes in the design of the proposed airport in Navi Mumbai. The meeting was a follow-up as the committee had sought clarifications regarding the changes in the project design, diversion of Gadhi and Ulwe rivers, the ambient level of the river water and the fate of mangroves, spread over 160 hectares at the proposed site. Sana Warsia – NMTV News.
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