Will Navi Mumbai Airport Be Ready By 2024?
The Navi Mumbai Airport project is expected to be ready by the year 2024, Maharashtra deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar said, on September 17, 2021. "I do not see that they (GVK) will face any problem. We have been given the target of 2024 for airport completion. We will be reviewing the work periodically," Pawar told the media. Pawar also directed CIDCO, the nodal agency of the Maharashtra government, which holds a 26% stake in the airport project, to expedite the process to complete the much-delayed airport project.
Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport is already serving more than it is capable of. Official data show the airport handled over 45 million passengers last year while it has an installed capacity to serve only 40 million passengers. All eyes are now on the launch of the Navi Mumbai Airport that is expected to take the burden off the city's primary airport, which is also the busiest single runway airport in the world.
Ending the 21-year wait, Prime Minister Narendra Modi in February 2018 laid the foundation stone for Phase-I of the airport project. "While the aviation sector is growing fast (clipping at 20 per cent for the past many months), aviation infrastructure is lagging behind this. Our endeavour is to increase the speed of work," the PM said after the ground-breaking ceremony. In March that year, the Navi Mumbai Airport Private Limited selected celebrated Zaha Hadid Architects to design the airport. This would be the global firm's first major project in the Indian sub-continent.
However, many an impediment continue to push the project completion timeline, and work on the Navi Mumbai Airport project might not see completion any time soon.
Thanks, partially, to the coronavirus crisis.
Things of the past
Even 45 years after authorities in Maharashtra thought they needed more urban space to house the rising population of Mumbai and set up the City and Industrial Development Corporation (Cidco) with much fanfare to develop a twin city, Navi Mumbai had failed to draw the desired interest. Despite being better planned than India's financial capital Mumbai and offering real estate at comparatively low prices, property in Navi Mumbai had not been able to excite homebuyers the way authorities would have liked. This was largely because of the slow infrastructural development in the area.
Despite the fact that the population in Navi Mumbai jumped 100 per cent between 1971 and 2001 - from 1.5 lakh to 11 lakh - the city was clamouring for more in the pre-set scheme of things. After all, Navi Mumbai was planned as a 'counter-magnet' to Mumbai.
The case of the Navi Mumbai airport is one for study. While the initial work to develop the airport had been initiated as early as in 1997, and the environment ministry's approval procured in 2010, the construction work could not commence. The reason: The green ministry had put certain terms and conditions for the Cidco before clearing the project. There was a further delay because the authorities had to amend the coastal zone regulation rules to make way for the airport.
In October 2017, the Chief Minister's Office in Maharashtra had said that the project would be executed by December 2019. It has also approved the selection of GVK-led Mumbai International Airports Ltd (MIAL) for developing the Navi Mumbai International Airport on public-private-partnership basis. The Cidco will be working as the nodal agency for the airport development.
Many, especially developers who had invested heavily in Navi Mumbai anticipating a massive price appreciation, heaved a sigh of relief when the clerance was given was stage-II development. The stage-I approval had been granted in 2013.
To be built at a cost of Rs 160 billion, the Navi Mumbai airport will have the capacity to handle 10 million passengers annually.
Not only will it share the rising passenger burden of the Mumbai's Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport, but it will also generate more employment opportunities for local people. (The Cidco expects the airport to generate over four lakh direct and indirect jobs.) This will certainly trigger large-scale migration to Navi Mumbai and help real estate developers clear their inventory.
As more and more infrastructure and transport projects see the light of day, Navi Mumbai will surely start acting as Mumbai's 'counter-magnet' and real estate in Navi Mumbai will begin to soar.