If you thought Navi Mumbai will be able to boast of an international airport in a couple of years, hold your horses.
The date to begin its construction is likely to be pushed back as neither has the Central government approved its pre-bid documents yet nor has there been any significant progress in land acquisition.
The state urban development department (UDD) claims that it had prepared the documents on the pre-bid terms and conditions and had submitted it to the Central aviation and civil ministry for approval. The airport’s master plan has already been given the go-ahead.
“We have been waiting for the ministry’s reply. It seems that the pre-bid documents are stuck at the Central-level. If it had approved them, we would have issued the global tender as per schedule in January,” said an official from the UDD.
What’s holding up the approval is the reported tug between officials from the state and the Central governments on who’ll take the responsibility for the procedure of floating tenders.
The UDD official said the Cidco, the state government agency that is the nodal body for the proposed airport project, has submitted all the required documents and has even given a presentation. “Still, things are not moving in the right direction,” he added.
The first phase of the project is to be completed and operational by 2015.
Officials claimed that the “changing power equations” at the Centre will affect the state’s major development projects. “We want the authorities to give their nod soon. Because if the approval remains stuck for a long time, the project will be in a limbo,” said another state official.
Another hindrance to the project’s take-off is the dispute over the compensation to be paid to the owners of the land to be acquired for the airport. Farmers from Navi Mumbai are demanding Rs20 crore for each acre, besides rehabilitation and jobs.
The government is not giving up without a fight. It has set up a committee to negotiate terms with the landowners.
“But, there has been no breakthrough. We have are open to offering the farmers developed land. But, they are not interested. Work on the project been on for the last 19 years now. And with all delays, it doesn’t look like we will be able to meet the deadline,” said a Mantralaya official.
UDD’s principal secretary TC Benjamin was not available for comments.