Hurdles cleared for 2nd Mumbai airport

Hurdles cleared for 2nd Mumbai airport
Passengers line up to check-in at the departure lounge of the Mumbai International Airport.

After eight years of uncertainty and a tripling of construction costs, India's commercial hub and largest city Mumbai will now get a second airport to cater to the country's burgeoning air traffic.

The project, delayed by land disputes, cleared its last remaining major hurdle when local authorities signed a landmark deal on Nov11 with villagers who will be displaced by the airport.

The 5,000 affected families in seven villages and the Maharashtra state government had wrangled for years over compensation.

The deal comes not a moment too soon as the current Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is bursting at the seams, handling 30 million passengers, beyond its capacity, leading to chronic delays.

October figures show that 18 per cent of arriving flights and 17 per cent of departures were delayed by more than 15 minutes.

The new airport is to be located across the harbour from Mumbai at Panvel, on 2,262ha of farmland that is flanked by a river, marshes and hillocks.

It will be in Navi Mumbai, a satellite town of Mumbai proper, and 40km from the current airport, which is inside Mumbai.

It is estimated to cost 150 billion rupees (S$3billion), three times the original 2005 cost estimate of 50 billion rupees.

The airport is to be built through a public-private partnership. At the end of next month, the state's planning agency, the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), will place advertisements globally, seeking Request for Qualification (RFQ) proposals from developers willing to construct the airport and operate it for 30 years with a 74per cent stake. The remaining 26per cent will be held equally by the state and central governments.

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