Navi Mumbai limps along

08 November 2017
Jet Airways aircraft at Chhatrapati Shivaji International Airport (CSIA) in May 2017. Navi Mumbai is planned as the solution to a major capacity crunch at CSIA – but will it be ready in time? Source: Getty

Following state cabinet approval to build the delayed USD4 billion Navi Mumbai Airport, GVK-led Mumbai International Airport Ltd (MIAL) will soon be issued the Letter of Intent to proceed. However, villagers continue to protest for compensation as land acquisition issues remain. As a result, police protection is to be provided to workers even as the blasting of a hill in the vicinity takes place next week.

KPMG partner and head of aerospace Amber Dubey called the exercise a “nightmare”. Noting that Navi Mumbai attracted 18 initial bids but no winner, he added that “something is amiss” with the project.

Speaking on 25 October during the Airport India Summit in Delhi, Dubey attributed the problems with finding a developer to “intrusive micromanagement by the government”, adding that other issues include funding and “humongous [tender] documents that discourage bidders”.

India aims to set up greenfield second airports for cities such as Goa and Mumbai. Taken to its logical conclusion, this would eventually mean that “every Indian city will require a new airport,” said Dubey. He added that land acquisition prices have increased fivefold.

Civil aviation minister Jayant Sinha acknowledged the problems facing airport development projects in India. “Airports are one industry that requires detailed long-term planning as they require significant investment,” he said. “We are in the middle of preparing a master plan for a complex set of planning and analysis.”

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