Navi Mumbai airport to get Modi push, to handle 10 mn flyers every year

Representative image
Prime Minister Narendra Modi will lay the foundation of the Rs 160-billion Navi Mumbai airport project on Sunday. First conceived nearly two decades ago, the airport project has missed several deadlines and has been mired in issues related to land acquisition and environment. With the existing Mumbai airport reaching saturation, the need for a second airport has become urgent. The prime ministerial push is expected to expedite the work. 

Last month the GVK group and the City and Industrial Development Corporation of Maharashtra (Cidco) signed the concession agreement for the airport. The GVK group won the bid to construct the airport last February but the award letter was issued only in October. The group runs the existing Mumbai airport.

Here are all the top details of the airport project:   

1) Master plan to be ready by April: According to the concession agreement, the first phase of the airport will have the capacity to handle a minimum of ten million passengers and 0.26 million tonnes of cargo each year. The airport master plan is being prepared and will be submitted to the government by April -- within 90 days of the signing of the concession agreement. Consulting firm Jacobs UK is working with the GVK group on the master plan. An architect will soon be selected through a competition to design the terminal building. 

However, the first phase could be built to handle more than ten million passengers per year and the same is being evaluated by GVK group. The evaluation will take into account factors such as traffic forecast, capacity at the existing airport in Mumbai, connectivity, and project financing, among other things. 

2) Twenty per cent pre-development work complete: The core airport land covers 1,160 hectares and much of it comprises hillock, marshland, and river. Pre-development works, which include flattening a hillock, reclaiming marshland, diverting a river, and shifting of power transmission lines, began last June. The work was held up many times by project-affected villagers but Cidco officials claim that the work has been completed on around 20 per cent of the 1,160 hectares. The hillock is being excavated and rock is being used to fill land to increase the land level to 5.5 metres above sea level. The work of shifting power transmission lines is yet to begin. The work requires clearance of the high court as it involves the construction of two stilt bridges over mangroves and creek.

Over 400 of the 3,000 project-affected families have shifted their homes and Cidco is offering an extra incentive of Rs 100-500 per square foot to villagers to encourage them to vacate their homes by May. Those who vacate in March will get Rs 500 per sq foot incentive and those leaving in April and May will get Rs 300 and Rs 100 per sq foot, respectively.

3) When will the airport be ready -- December 2019 or 2022-23? The answer to that question depends on whom you ask. CIDCO maintains that the terminal building and single runway will be ready by December 2019, while, earlier this month, minister of state for civil aviation Jayant Sinha stated that it will take 4-5 years for the airport to become operational. According to the concession agreement, the airport launch deadline has been set at 2021 end.

4) Thirty-year concession agreement: Under the concession agreement, the initial concession period is for 30 years, which is extendable by another ten years. The financial closure will be done six months after signing the concession agreement. The civil aviation ministry and Airport Authority of India will now sign an MOU with the developer for the provision of services such as customs, immigration, and air navigation. 

The airport is being jointly developed by GVK group-run Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL) and Cidco. While MIAL owns 74 per cent, Cidco holds 26 per cent in the company developing the project. The airport development company will pay 12.6 per cent of its gross revenue and a concession fee ranging from Rs 50 million to Rs 12.5 billion over a period of sixty years to Cidco.  

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel