The proposed Navi Mumbai international airport inched one more step closer to realty as the nodal agency for its development crossed yet another hurdle.
The Maharastra government has given the City and Industrial Develoment Corporation (Cidco) an "in principle" approval to hand over 150 hectares of land for the ambitious project.
The government is expected to soon complete the pertinent formalities. Only recently had deputy chief minister Ajit Pawar met CM Prithviraj Chavan in order to expedite the handing over of the land, whose market value is of the order of Rs 500 crore (Rs 5 billion).
The administration's move is crucial, especially when 1,341 hectares of the total 2,054-hectare land is in Cidco's possession.
However, the Cidco was striving to acquire the balance 713 hectare. With the government's move to hand over 150 hectare, the Cidco would still have to acquire 563 hectare of land for which the notices have been served under the Land Acquisition Act, 1894 to the residents of Pargaon and Owale.
These villagers have been strongly demanding a compensation of Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) per acre.
Cidco chairman Pamod Hindurao says the deputy CM has taken an initiative in this regard and the government is son expect to issue a formal order handing over its 150 hectare land for the airport project.
"The negotiations with villagers are currently on. I am quite hopeful that a consensus will emerge to pave the way for smooth acquisition of the balance land," he said.
The authorities are to "soon" take a review of the present status of the development of the proposed airport.
The government's move comes at a time when one year would be complete on November 22 after the ministry of environment and forests gave environment clearance for the project.
The Cidco was unable to issue request for qualification in view of acquisition of total land. The state government's decision has given a partial relief, even though it would have to step up efforts to acquire the necessary land.
Hindurao now says all efforts will be made to make the first phase operational in 2014 - as announced.
The airport would handle 10 million passengers per annum in the first phase. The figure will rise to 60 million by its final phase in 2030.
RC Gharat, advisor to the airport's project-affected persons, says there has not been much progress in the negotiations with the committee headed by the Konkan Divisional Commissioner. Reason: villagers are firm on the compensation of Rs 20 crore (Rs 200 million) per acre.