Navi Mumbai : The much talked about international airport project at Kharghar in Navi Mumbai, faces the danger of being scrapped because of the ever increasing demands of local political leaders, sources said.
Adding fuel to the fire is the ongoing turf battle between the Congress and the NCP in Navi Mumbai.
Sources said that Sanjay Bhatia, the no-nonsense Vice Chairman and Managing Director of the City and Industrial Development Corporation (CIDCO), has issued a veiled threat that the authorities would have to “rethink” on the airport project if the leaders negotiating on behalf of the project affected people (PAP) did not accept the “more than reasonable” compensation package.
CIDCO proposed to allot 22% of the developed land to the PAPs, pay cash up to Rs 20 crore per hectare and build a township called Pushpak to accommodate the displaced families. But, the Peasants and Workers’ Party (PWP) leaders spearheading the PAP agitation have stuck to their demand of 35% of the developed land and cash payment at par with the market rate which could be as high as Rs 20 crore per acre. This could make the entire airport project unviable and it could be abandoned just as the government did with the SEZ project that was scrapped.
It is noteworthy that even the 22% land proposal is much higher than 12.5% scheme that CIDCO traditionally works on as the acquisition compensation for the land owners.
All eyes are now on the proposed interventional meeting with Chief Minister Prithviraj Chavan.
CIDCO Chairman and NCP leader Pramod Hindurao is also actively campaigning for the airport and political observers point out it will be interesting to see as to what extent CM agrees to accommodate it.
Meanwhile, the Chief Minister is understood to have asked the officials to speed up the process of developing an airport at Chakan, near Pune creating a buzz in Navi Mumbai that the government will now seriously focus on it rather than yielding to the PWP leaders’ demands.
Congress, at local level, has been opposing quite a few moves by the ruling NCP at the Navi Mumbai Municipal Corporation. Its leaders have even trashed the NCP-initiated “One Time development Plan” for the Municipal Corporation administered Navi Mumbai at an expenditure of a whopping Rs 13,000 crore – which incidentally is very close to the revised estimated cost of Rs 14,000 crore for the airport project!
NMMC might as well take up the airport project along with CIDCO, an observer suggested. But the hitch here is that the airport is outside the limits of the NMMC. Kharghar falls in Raigad district.
Political observers point out that PWP has a very strong control over the Raigad part of Navi Mumbai – from Kharghar to Panvel and Uran – and its leaders are unlike to allow NCP to have a smooth flight of the airport project. This explains for the high compensation that they demand for PAP.
PWP leadership also knows that the airport is a prize catch for the NCP which could now make a strong bid to strengthen its position even in Raigad area.
In yet another proposal initiated by the NCP for increasing the FSI to 2.5 for redevelopment of old buildings in NMMC area, the State government is yet to accept the move. Guardian Minister Ganesh Naik was hopeful of sorting out the FSI issue three months ago, before the budget session of the State legislature. Later, MLA Sandeep Naik, younger son of Ganesh Naik, raised the issue in the Legislative Assembly.
B N KUMAR
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