Maharashtra CM Chavan meets PM over Navi Mumbai airport row

     Maharashtra's Chief Minister Ashok Chavan met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh over the development of a new airport in Navi Mumbai, on Friday. Chavan said that the Prime Minister has assured that nothing would come in the way of Mumbai's development. "The Prime Minister, after we called on him today, has categorically said that, 'I will personally look into the matter, Mumbai's development is of paramount importance to the country.' I appreciate that the airport at Navi Mumbai is a necessity. I had helped that earlier also by amending the CRZ (Coastal Regulation Zone) notification in 2009 and I assure you that nothing will come in the way of Mumbai's development," said Chavan. Chavan, who was also concerned due to the opposition to the proposed airport by Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on ecological grounds, said that they would address all concerns of the ministry. "It is not the question of appeasing an individual, the question is of development. We never said we will not address the environmental concerns, we will surely extend full support for that. There will be no interference from our side in terms of environmental protection, whether it's the issue of mangroves or even the river in the area, because there can be other ways. We have proposed some suggestions like these," said Chavan. Union Civil Aviation Minister Praful Patel has given the project his backing, but the MoEF continues to block it, as it involves destruction of over 400 acres of mangroves and altering the course of two rivers. Both the Maharashtra government and the Aviation Ministry have refused to consider alternative sites for the airport. Union Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh had cited three issues relating to diversion of the Gadhi and Ulwe rivers, the survival of mangroves currently situated on 160 hectares, and the blasting of a hill 80 metres above the sea level. Patel, meanwhile, had maintained that that there was no alternative to Navi Mumbai for the proposed international airport, as other sites are not suitable.

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