The ambitious Navi Mumbai International Airport worth Rs 14,500 crore, to be developed on a 1,160 hectare plot, will be built in four phases. Elaborating on the plans, Sanjay Bhatia, Vice Chairman and MD, City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO) tells Rahul Kamat that the first flight from this airport will take off in 2018.
With the commencement of the request for qualification (RFQ) process by CIDCO, the Navi Mumbai International Airport project must be gearing up for some fierce competition from foreign players and domestic players. How has been the response so far? The response is significant. The day we announced RFQ (on 18 June), as many as 13 foreign players had already shown their interest. In fact, I am sure that this will be the first time that foreign players across the globe are interested in an Indian project. As of now, Hochtif Group of Germany, Changi Airport International, Fraport AG, the Ferrovial Group Macquaire, Flughafen Munchen GmbH of Munich, Zurich Airport, ATroports de Paris of France, TAV Airports Holdings, Malaysia Airports Holdings, ADC and HAS Airports Worldwide Inc, Abertis Infrastructure and Dublin Airport are some of the probable bidders that could participate in the bidding process.
However, there is a major concern over connectivity for this project, as experts feels that a proposal submitted by the Dutch consortium for island airport will make connectivity projects more viable. You may recall that bidders did not respond to a tender earlier this year for the Mumbai Trans Harbour Link (MTHL) on the basis of projections of inadequate traffic flow.... We are treating the proposal submitted by the Dutch consortium as a backup plan. The Chief Minister of Maharashtra has asked us to prepare the cost estimation and feasibility report for the Navi Mumbai island airport, based on a proposal submitted by a Dutch consortium recently. I agree that connectivity is an issue but that does not mean one should consider a project like MTHL financially unviable. As the project will be on an engineering, procurement and construction (EPC) basis, there is very less chance of it being unviable. The Mumbai Metropolitan Regional Development Authority (MMRDA) has already prepared a Detailed Project Report (DPR) for the same. The MMRDA is expecting the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA) to formally sanction a loan for the Rs 9,630-crore project during its project appraisal cycle this year.
But how about other connectivity activities? Or is CIDCO only relying on the MTHL project? How can we just rely on a single project? Along with MTHL, we will be undertaking the major roads surrounding the NMIA site that have been taken up for enhancement on priority at the Aamra Marg (to be widened to 8 lanes with service lanes on either side), National Highway 4B (to be widened to 8 lanes), both of which will be implemented by a special purpose vehicle (SPV), the Mumbai JNPT Port Road Company Ltd. It is currently at the bidding stage. In addition, the Sion-Panvel Expressway is presently being widened to 10 lanes by the Maharashtra Public Works Department. It is expected to be completed by 2015.
Along with these projects, the Vasai to Alibaug multimodal corridor will provide connectivity to the outer fringes of MMR with NMIA. The DPR is being prepared by MMRDA. Meanwhile, CIDCO is providing a coastal road with 60 m right of way (ROW) for connecting MTHL with NMIA and thus providing a direct access to the airport.
But have you considered the increased traffic flow (both inbound and outbound) which can create chaos at a later stage of development of the airport? That is why we are proposing new transit corridors (metro and suburban rail) to cater to the demand during later phases of the airport development. We have planned the first metro rail project in Navi Mumbai on Belapur-Khargar-Pendhar-Taloja-Khandeshwar route with a connection to NMIA. The Phase I of the project from Belapur to Pendhar is under construction and is expected to be operational by 2015. We have received bids from three consortia: AnTaCs Consortium, Alstom Consortium and L&T Consortium.
Farmers in six villages are opposing the state government's rehabilitation package. Do you sense that these project affected persons (PAPs) have been mislead by certain elements? I would rather put it this way. The package offered by the government to the PAPs is the best deal that the government has to offer. We are here to ensure that farmers get their rightful dues. The decision regarding the rehabilitation package to be given to farmers was taken after detailed discussions with representatives of all political parties and with a consensus. The land in these [six] villages is very much significant as the main runway and core area of operations of the new airport fall in these villages. However, over the next four months, we expect that those parcels of land will also be acquired.
What are the opportunities the government will provide to the PAPs? Along with the developed land, we are also providing vocational employability programme for approximately 8,000 village youths between the age of 18 and 35. Their aptitude test has been conducted to assess the kind of job they are best suited for. Education institutes and job agencies have also tied up with us for providing skills and employment for the youths.
A range of employment opportunities from fire brigade services to fashion designing are being offered to them. CIDCO is also involved with the locals for pre-project work, which requires demolishing a local hill, levelling the site and increasing its height by about 4 m. It is a huge contract of about Rs 1,400 crore, but there is a clause, which requires the contractor to hire the services of the cooperative societies of local residents for 50 per cent of the work. In effect, local residents will get a Rs 700 crore contract.
What is the compensation package offered by the government to PAPs? The state government has offered 22.5 per cent developed land with an average FSI of 2. They would get an FSI of 1.5 for 12.5 per cent of developed land and 2.5 per cent for the remaining 10 per cent developed land. The affected families will also get 100 shares in companies that will develop the airport. In addition, we will also be developing a modern township "Pushpak Nagarö which is near the airport for PAPs.
When it comes to PPP projects, the private player always blames the government for failure to obtain permission for land acquisition, environment and forest clearance. How comfortable are you now on this front? We have completed pre-development work, which includes levelling and other activities. So, by the time a bidder comes in, they will have everything ready. As far as other approvals and clearances are concerned, we have received clearances from the Ministry of Civil Aviation (MoCA), environment and CRZ clearance from Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF), and defence clearance from the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
The Stage 1 forest and wildlife clearance has been obtained. Also, the Bombay High Court has permitted the clearance of mangroves in the airport area. CRZ clearance for off-site infrastructure com¡prising peripheral roads and interchanges has been received. Route approval for the shifting of extra high voltage transmission (EHVT) lines has been received by the Director General of Civil Aviation.
AT A GLANCE
Consultants for NMIA
Sailent feature of RFQ
Airport implementation plan