FPJ exclusive: CM Thackeray sets new deadline for Navi Mumbai airport

The Maharashtra Chief Minister Uddhav Thackeray on Wednesday has set an ambitious deadline of May 2021 for the completion of the Rs 16,256 crore Navi Mumbai international airport by the Mumbai International Airport Limited (MIAL). The Fadnavis government had given a deadline of commissioning of the first phase in December 2019 which was later rescheduled twice to May 2020 and December 2020 for handling 10 million passengers annually. However, MIAL has missed the first deadline indicating that it won’t be possible to start the operations from December this year. Therefore Thackeray today asked MIAL to complete the first phase by May 2021.

The state-run City and Industrial Development Corporation is the nodal agency for the airport project.

At the maiden meeting with the MIAL team, especially after the state government’s MissionBeginAgain, Thackeray also warned the government will not tolerate further delays as the commissioning of the airport will help to attract more investments in Maharashtra.

Industry Minister Subhash Desai, who was present at today’s meeting, told Free Press Journal, "The Chief Minister has asked the company to put the development of the airport on the fast track. The completion of the airport will be an important milestone especially when the state government is attracting new investments.’’

Today’s meeting is crucial as Adani Group is in the midst of completing legal and administrative procedures to take over Mumbai and upcoming Navi Mumbai airports from GVK Group. The Adani group deal includes paying out the previous two stakeholders comprising Bidvest and ACSA, both South African companies. Adani Group will now have 74% equity, along with AAI 26%. In the earlier arrangement of equity in MIAL, the GVK group had 50.5%, AAI 26%, Bidvest and ACSA together 23.5% --13% and 10% respectively.

CIDCO and MIAL have been engaged in a blame game. CIDCO had blamed MIAL for not simultaneously undertaking the work of the runway and evacuation of local villagers. On its part, MIAL referred to the concession agreement of not starting the work as the local villagers have yet to vacate the land. Thackeray asked MIAL and CIDCO to step up efforts for the relocation of local villagers and their rehabilitation.

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