Mumbai: Navi Mumbai Airport has been hit by another road block after farmers demanded Rs 20 crores per acre as compensation.
Farmers are demanding 4 to 5 times the market rate, for over a thousand acres of land, needed for the airport.
Apart from this, they are also demanding rehabilitation and jobs.
Twenty-nine million passengers a year now and this overburdened airport is expected to reach its peak saturation capacity of 40 million passengers by next year.
After a hard-fought 2-year long battle for environmental clearances, a fresh hurdle has come from this small group of villagers. Owners of over a 1000 acres of land needed for airport are demanding a whopping 20 crore rupees for each acre, plus rehabilitation and jobs.
Pandari Nath Keni of Navi Mumbai Airport Sangharsh Samiti, Chinchpada, said, "20 crore per acre of land is the price of the mud of the land."
The villagers have finally agreed to a joint survey of their land, which began on Monday, a process that will take another two months. But will the Navi Mumbai airport remain financially viable?
While the project was estimated to cost 10,000 crore rupees, it will now have to be recalculated.
If the villagers' 20 crore per acre is factored in, will the project now attract bidders at all?
The Land Acquisition Bill pending in Parliament that approves compensation for landowners at 4 times the market rate could be a shot in the arm for these villagers. For the moment, the state is fighting shy of specifying a fresh deadline for the much-needed airport.
Prithviraj Chavan, Chief Minister, Maharashtra, said, "Rehabilitation process is on, once that is done, the rest should not take much time. It's that simple."
But as Mumbai's airport continues to reel under pressure, time is of the essence for this long-awaited project.