Navi Mumbai int'l airport: When 
it will see the flight of the day is unclear

Construction work on the Greenfield Navi Mumbai International Airport (NMIA) resumed from Monday, after the requisite permissions were obtained from the police, district collector, and other concerned departments. Work on the proposed international airport had stopped in the wake of the nation-wide lockdown enforced on March 24 due to the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Now, after almost six weeks, the pre-development work on the airport has begun, with the minimum number of workers, to ensure social distancing.

Priya Ratambe, the senior public relations officer of the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), said the planning authority had taken all the necessary permissions from the police, the district collector, and the regional transport office. “Work has been resumed with the minimum number of workers, to maintain social distancing and ensure those at the worksite are safe from infection,” said Ratambe.

The project has already missed a few deadlines - first, in December 2019 and now, even the second one set in mid-2020, seems impossible to meet, at the moment. Ratambe said, throughout the world, various projects have been impacted by the virus and this is one among them. “We are doing our best to meet the deadline,” said Ratambe. She added that around 97 per cent of pre-development work was already completed when the lockdown was enforced, "we are completing the pre-development work and have also started work in the non-aeronautical area."

While allowing airport work to resume, Zone 2 of Navi Mumbai Police set some guidelines for the construction company -- all the workers would have to wear masks and use hand sanitisers at the worksite and would have to carry an identity card.

The NMIA, planned to decongest Mumbai airport, has been delayed by several years. The project cost has escalated to Rs 16,500 crore, from the initial cost of Rs 14,000 crore. Initially, the government had approved setting up the airport in 2007, but ran into several environmental and land acquisition problems. The airport was expected to become operational by the end of 2019 but missed. Even after the lockdown is lifted, there is very little possibility that this 'flight' will take off in 2020.

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